III. Experience: Practica and Field Experience

Supervised field experience is critical to the training of school psychologists at every stage of their development. Carefully structured and supervised experiences in schools and other appropriate settings allow trainees to observe experienced practitioners, practice initial skill development, and extend their skills. Field experience is also the primary means through which supervisors and more experienced mentors can deliver immediate and direct feedback and coaching essential to the development of professional skill and confidence. Prior to receiving a credential, professional experience and coursework are inextricably linked, and based on an explicit model of anticipated candidate development.

Definition of Terms

Practice (Singular= Practicum). Practica consists of a series of supervised experiences that occur prior to the field experience, are conducted in laboratory and or field-based settings, and provide for the application of knowledge and mastery of distinct skills.

Field experience. The field experience is the culminating experience in the training of a school psychologist. It occurs after successful completion of the practice field experience and near or after successful completion of other program course requirements.

Internship: The culminating field experience is called an "internship" when the candidate is issued an internship credential from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The types and breadth of activities the candidate obtains in the culminating field experience is the same regardless of whether or not the candidate receives a salary. Internships may be offered collaboratively by universities and school districts for prospective school psychologists. Interns are enrolled in an approved school psychology credential program while they serve under the supervision of experienced credentialed school psychologists from the district AND university trainers. During this one-year to two-year training period, each intern holds an internship credential that is granted by the Commission.

Field experience Settings. The four basic field experience settings for school psychologists include (a) preschool, (b) elementary, (c) middle school or junior high, and (d) high school. It is expected that candidates will complete field experiences in three (3) of these four (4) settings. A total of 150 hours is required for the second and third field experience settings when combining all practica and field experiences.
 
Standard 25: Practica

Candidates are provided the opportunity to engage in field -based activities in all areas of professional training. Specifically, candidates are provided with practica experiences in the areas of (a) collaboration and consultation, (b) wellness promotion, (c) counseling and crisis intervention, (d) individual assessment, (e) educational planning and evaluation, (f) program planning and evaluation, (g) and research and measurement. Candidates demonstrate the ability to select and apply core knowledge regarding psychological foundations, educational foundations, and legal, ethical, and professional foundations in their work in schools.

Practica consists of a series of supervised experiences that occur prior to the field experience, are conducted in laboratory or field-based settings or both. They provide for the application of knowledge and mastery of distinct skills. There must be a systematic means of evaluating the practica experiences that seeks to ensure the acquisition of desired skills by pupils.

A minimum of 450 clock hours of practicum is required according to the following standards and guidelines:

1. A minimum of three hundred (300) clock hours in a preschool to grade 12 school setting providing direct and indirect pupil services.

2. Up to 150 hours of experience may be offered through on-campus agencies (for example, child study center, psychology clinic, relevant educational research or evaluation activities), or community agencies (for example, private schools, community mental health centers).

3. The supervision and principle responsibility for the practicum experience typically remains with faculty of the training program, in coordination with field-based professionals. Whether provided by faculty or a field-based professional, practicum supervision must be provided by an experienced (minimum of two years) professional who possesses background, training and credentials appropriate to
the practicum experience.

4. Practicum is offered for academic credit, or is a part of a course for which a candidate receives credit. However organized, the experience is a direct extension of program training goals and objectives, and concurrent instruction is provided as a part of the experience.

5. All practica experiences are evaluated. Practica evaluations are appropriate to the program objectives, whether the experience is accomplished through on campus or off- campus placements or through practical application components of separate courses. The evaluation also seeks to clarify the utility of the experience in terms of setting, supervision, and appropriateness of experiences. In this manner, the evaluation process is twofold, evaluating both the candidate's progress and the suitability of the various characteristics of the experience.

The four basic field experience settings for school psychologists include (a) preschool, (b) elementary, (c) middle school/junior high, and (d) high school. It is expected that candidates will complete a total of 450 clock hours of practica and 1,200 clock hours of culminating field experience Although candidates are encouraged to obtain diverse field experiences, it is recognized that many candidates will accrue most of their 1,650 clock hours of field experience in one primary setting. To ensure that candidates have a breadth of field experience, candidates are required to complete a minimum of 200 clock hours across a second, third, or fourth field experience setting. These 200 hours can be accrued in both practica and the culminating field experience settings combined.

1. Practica

Candidates are provided a program of individualized and supervised field experiences that gives them the opportunity to practice skills acquired in coursework through practica experiences connected to the following courses:

Psychology 277 - Role and Function of the School Psychologist
Psychology 278 - Intervention and Prevention in School Psychology
Psychology 279 - Consultation and Supervision
Psychology 282 - Cognitive and Behavior Therapy
Psychology 287 - Practicum
Psychology 286 -Instructional Consultation and Intervention
Psychology 284 - Assessment of Intellectual Abilities
Psychology 285 - Assessment of Learning & Behavior Problems

Candidates are placed by the faculty members in different settings each semester or year in order for each candidate to experience a wide variety of diverse settings.


2. Practica in Individual Differences

Candidates are provided the opportunity to observe individual differences in cognitive, social, emotional and physical development by systematically observing pupils in different settings from early childhood through late adolescence in coursework in:

Psychology 277 - Role and Function of the School Psychologist
Psychology 278 - Intervention and Prevention in School Psychology
Psychology 279 - Consultation and Supervision
Psychology 282 - Cognitive and Behavior Therapy
Psychology 287 - Practicum
Psychology 286 -Instructional Consultation and Intervention
Psychology 284 - Assessment of Intellectual Abilities
Psychology 285 - Assessment of Learning & Behavior Problems
 
3. Practica in Instructional Settings

Field experience settings provide candidates the opportunity to become familiar with a wide range of classroom instructional settings designed for pupils from diverse backgrounds and with different abilities from preschool through high school through coursework in:

Psychology 277 - Role and Function of the School Psychologist
Psychology 278 - Intervention and Prevention in School Psychology
Psychology 279 - Consultation and Supervision
Psychology 282 - Cognitive and Behavior Therapy
Psychology 287 - Practicum
Psychology 286 -Instructional Consultation and Intervention
Psychology 284 - Assessment of Intellectual Abilities
Psychology 285 - Assessment of Learning & Behavior Problems

4. Interpersonal skills on Practica Experiences

Candidates are provided the opportunity to develop effective interpersonal skills through interactions with pupils, parents, school staff and other professionals working with pupils.

Psychology 277 - Role and Function of the School Psychologist
Psychology 278 - Intervention and Prevention in School Psychology
Psychology 279 - Consultation and Supervision
Psychology 282 - Cognitive and Behavior Therapy
Psychology 287 - Practicum
Psychology 286 -Instructional Consultation and Intervention
Psychology 284 - Assessment of Intellectual Abilities
Psychology 285 - Assessment of Learning & Behavior Problems

5. Practica Evaluations

Candidates receive regular evaluations regarding their field experience performance from field- and university-based supervisors at the end of the semester in individual meetings with the faculty members to review their practicum evaluations.

*See Program Handbook – Appendix FandAppendix M

6. Internship Readiness

Both field supervisors and university supervisors evaluate candidates' readiness to assume the responsibilities involved in being an intern school psychologist following a review of the previous four semesters of practicum evaluations, successful completion of all coursework, successful completion of the Educational Testing Service Exam to become a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, and an evaluation by faculty members.

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