What School Psychologists Do

School psychologists are uniquely qualified members of PreK-12 school teams that support students’ ability to learn and teachers’ ability to teach. They apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. School psychologists partner with families, teachers, school administrators, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school, and the community.

The majority of school psychologists work in PreK-12 schools, although some work at universities and in hospitals or mental health agencies. School psychologists provide direct support and interventions to students and work with teachers, families, other school professionals as well as community providers to coordinate needed services for students. They help schools successfully:

Improve Academic Achievement

  • Promote student motivation and engagement
  • Conduct psychological and academic assessments
  • Individualize instruction and interventions
  • Manage student and classroom behavior
  • Monitor student progress
  • Collect and interpret student and classroom data
  • Reduce inappropriate referrals to special education

Promote Positive Behavior and Mental Health 

  • Improve students’ communication and social skills
  • Assess students’ emotional and behavioral needs
  • Provide individual and group counseling
  • Promote problem solving, anger management, and conflict resolution
  • Reinforce positive coping skills and resilience
  • Promote positive peer relationships and social problem solving
  • Make referrals to and help coordinate community services provided in schools

Support Diverse Learners 

  • Assess diverse learning needs
  • Provide culturally responsive services to students and families from diverse backgrounds
  • Plan appropriate Individualized Education Programs for students with disabilities
  • Modify and adapt curricula and instruction
  • Adjust classroom facilities and routines to improve student engagement and learning
  • Monitor and effectively communicate with parents about student progress

Create Safe, Positive School Climates 

  • Prevent bullying and other forms of violence
  • Support social-emotional learning
  • Assess school climate and improve school connectedness
  • Implement and promote positive discipline and restorative justice
  • Implement school-wide positive behavioral supports
  • Identify at risk students and school vulnerabilities
  • Provide crisis prevention and intervention services

Strengthen Family-School Partnerships

  • Help families understand their child’s learning and mental health needs
  • Assist in navigating special education processes
  • Connect families with community service providers when necessary
  • Help effectively engage families with teachers and other school staff
  • Enhance staff understanding and responsiveness to diverse cultures and backgrounds
  • Help students transition between school and community learning environments, such as residential treatment or juvenile justice programs

Improve School-Wide Assessment and Accountability 

  • Monitor individual student progress in academics and behavior
  • Generate and interpret useful student and school outcome data
  • Collect and analyze data on risk and protective factors related to student outcomes
  • Plan services at the district, building, classroom, and individual levels

(Modified from NASP)


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