The University of Massachusetts Boston School Psychology Program offers a balance of theory and practical experience. Pre-practicum, practicum, and internship fieldwork provide opportunities to apply professional skills and knowledge in education-based field settings. The following fieldwork is required: Pre-practica; two, one-semester Practica (each one day or more per week), and Internship (five days per week for an entire school year). During field placements, students are expected to participate actively in the day-to-day roles and functions of a school psychologist. Expected professional competencies are measured via the Practicum Student Evaluation Form and the Intern Evaluation Form. The following information pertains to all students in fieldwork:
Policies and Ethical Guidelines
All students in fieldwork are expected to become familiar with, and to be held accountable for, all existing rules, requirements, and regulations of the school system, department, or institution to which they are assigned. Students are required to comply with the ethical guidelines of the National Association of School Psychologists and the American Psychological Association.
Attendance is required for all days of assignment and placement. Students must notify the appropriate supervisor on any given day when illnesses or other emergencies interfere with attendance at their assigned placement. Students are expected to attend all orientation sessions, staff meetings, evaluation sessions, day or evening schedules or meetings required by the school system or institution. The only exception is for events that conflict with the schedule of the internship seminar. Students should also introduce themselves to school personnel and obtain information about the system’s organization and operation.
All practicum and internship students are required to acquire professional liability insurance prior to their field placement and to keep it current. Insurance is available through the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) or the American Psychological Association (APA). Failure to obtain such insurance will result in a student not being permitted to enroll or participate in the placement. Practicum and seminar instructors must have a copy of the insurance.
CORI and TB tests
A school district may require pre-practicum students, practicum students, and interns to attain a Criminal Offender Record Inquiry (CORI) and/or a TB test.
Logs are required in order to satisfy pre-practicum, practicum, and internship requirements. Instructors provide log forms for their courses and seminars. Logs document daily activities such as conferences with the field supervisor as well as all forms of service delivery including meetings, counseling and consultation sessions, team evaluations, and assessments of children and adolescents. Students indicate in the log the relevant NASP practice domain next to each activity. They total the hours at the bottom of each page. The practicum and internship logs should be reviewed with the University Supervisor during each visit. During the internship, students can accrue a maximum of 100 hours per semester (200 hours total) devoted to internship-related work outside of school hours. At the end of each term (600 hours), the intern and supervisor sign a summary sheet for the completed intern and supervision logs. The intern submits the summary sheet to the Program Director for inclusion in the student file. The intern submits the entire log electronically.
Tuition Credit Vouchers
For each student assigned to field placement, the university provides field supervisors with a tuition voucher good for three graduate credits of study at UMass Boston. (Note that the voucher has specific limitations.) In the event that the field supervisor does not wish to use the voucher, it can be transferred to another individual. However, the voucher may not be transferred for use by the practicum student or intern. These vouchers can also be used to verify supervision for PDP credits toward NCSP recertification or re-licensure for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Students and university supervisors are responsible for completing the Field Supervisor Tuition Voucher Request Form for each field supervisor and submitting it at the beginning of each semester of Practicum and Internship.
The UMass Boston School Psychology Program incorporates 125 pre-practicum hours into various introductory courses. Some of these must be completed during the day in school settings. In most cases, students arrange pre-practicum hours with the assistance of the course instructor. Students are responsible for completing activity logs and obtaining verifying signatures to document the clock hours. The logs are submitted to the course instructor and kept in the student's permanent file. The following courses require pre-practicum hours:
SPY 601: Issues and Ethics in School Psychology requires 25 hours of pre-practicum during the school day that include observing a school psychologist (the pre-practicum mentor) performing a variety of activities involving assessment, direct intervention, and consultation; observing meetings with parents such as pre-referral or team meetings; and conducting interviews with various school personnel.
SPY 602: Cognitive and Academic Assessment and Intervention I requires 25 hours of pre-practicum applied to the administration of cognitive assessment instruments to volunteers.
SPY 603: Cognitive and Academic Assessment and Intervention II requires 25 hours of pre-practicum applied to the administration of cognitive and academic assessment instruments to volunteers.
SPY 604: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Assessment and Intervention requires 25 hours of pre-practicum applied to the administration of social/emotional batteries with volunteers.
SPY 612: Learning Theories Applied to Curriculum requires 5 hours of pre-practicum during the school day that includes observing general and special education classes and interviewing educational personnel.
EDU 646 Understanding Reading: Principles and Practices requires 15 hours of pre-practicum during the school day that includes observing reading curriculum and instruction, working with children to link assessment and instruction, and developing a theory of teaching reading and literacy grounded in research-based understandings.
School psychology students are required to complete two, 100-hour practica in schools during the school day (SPY 685 in the fall and 686 in the spring). A third practicum (SPY 687) is available for those who seek additional fieldwork. Practicum activities are focused at the beginner level. A university supervisor (Practicum Instructor) and a licensed school psychologist at the site (Field Supervisor) work together to ensure close supervision. Field Supervisors hold weekly conferences in which they provide constructive feedback about the practicum student’s performance and progress. In addition, Practicum Instructors conduct weekly seminars to discuss the hands-on learning plus issues that arise. The fieldwork policies regarding ethical practice, attendance, CORI checks, liability insurance, and logs described previously apply to all practicum students. Students apply for acceptance into the Practica by completing the Practicum Application Form.
During this practicum, students participate in:
- Collaborative consultation with school personnel and parents,
- Assessment of academic skills using Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM)
- Participation in a prevention program
- Participation in an academic or social/emotional intervention program
- Completion of one case study involving monitoring student progress
- Attending a policy-setting meeting (e.g., school board).
For this practicum, UMass Boston has partnerships with local school districts (currently Quincy and Boston). Students who are employed in a school in another capacity (such as a guidance counselor) may petition the Program Director to use employment activities to fulfill practicum requirements by attaching a descriptive letter to the Practicum Application Form. This letter must detail the activities to be performed and be signed by relevant administrators and supervisors. For example, a person employed as a guidance counselor may use individual and group counseling sessions conducted in the course of the job to fulfill the Practicum I requirement, and complete other requirements outside of the employment setting. Students must have satisfactorily completed these prerequisite courses: SPY 601, SPY 602, and COU 614. They are advised to take the following courses prior to or concurrently with the Practicum: SPY 603, 604, 607, 611, 653; EDC 646; COU 617, 650; COU 635. A cumulative graduate program GPA of 3.0 is required. Since this course is not available through online registration, each student must contact the Program Director to request enrollment in SPY 686. Students should be aware that field placement sites may require Criminal Offender Record Inquiry (CORI) checks and/or TB tests. Student skills during this Practicum are assessed via the Meeting Observation Form, Observation Rubric Form, and the Practicum Student Evaluation Form.
During this practicum, students participate in activities focusing on the assessment, diagnosis, and intervention recommendations for children and adolescents. For this practicum, UMass Boston has partnerships with local school districts (currently Boston and Quincy). Students who are employed in a school in another capacity (such as a special education teacher) may petition the Program Director to use employment activities to fulfill some practicum requirements by attaching a descriptive letter to the Practicum Application Form. This letter must detail the activities to be performed and be signed by relevant administrators and supervisors. For example, a person employed as a special education teacher may use academic assessments conducted in the course of the job to fulfill the academic assessment practicum requirement, and complete other requirements outside of the employment setting. Each student is matched with a practicing school psychologist one day per week in order to apply the skills to be practiced, particularly assessment and intervention skills. In addition, the class seminar meets on campus weekly. One hundred clock hours of field experience are required in addition to the weekly seminar. Prerequisites include SPY 601, SPY 602, and COU 614. Students are advised to take the following courses previously or concurrently with the Practicum: SPY 603 and 604. A cumulative graduate program GPA of 3.0 is required. Since this course is not available through online registration, each student must contact the Program Director to request enrollment in SPY 686. Students should be aware that field placement sites may require Criminal Offender Record Inquiry (CORI) checks and/or TB tests. Student skills during Practicum II are assessed via the Testing Observation Form, Observation Rubric Form, and the Practicum Student Evaluation Form.
Students who seek additional field experience may elect to take SPY 687. The practicum is set up similarly to that of SPY 686 and 687. That is, students work with a field supervisor on site and attend a seminar with a university supervisor. Students who enroll for the optional practicum are most often those who anticipate working in California. That state requires 450 clock hours of practicum that must be earned previous to the internship.
The internship experience is extremely influential in determining whether an individual becomes an effective school psychologist. The UMass Boston School Psychology internship is designed to provide experiences that enable interns to develop competencies such that they can function successfully as practicing school psychologists in any school district.
Two consecutive semesters of B or better in SPY 688 Internship are required to complete the program. Students cannot enroll in internship more than three times.
Program faculty strongly recommended that students begin the internship in the fall and complete it in the spring semester. Whereas it is possible to begin the internship in January and end in December, starting at the beginning of the academic year provides a more natural and meaningful learning experience. It also provides improved employment opportunities upon completion. Whereas one can complete the internship on a half time basis over two years, completing it on a full time basis in one year provides the best learning opportunities.
Prerequisites. Students must have satisfactorily completed all coursework prior to registering for SPY 688 Internship. The program faculty must approve any exceptions to this policy. Further, a cumulative graduate program GPA of 3.0 is required. Since neither Internship (SPY 688) nor Internship Seminar (SPY 691) is available through online registration, students must contact the Program Director to request enrollment in these courses.
Internship Sites. Every student's internship must encompass experiences at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Interns should spend at least 10% of their time at each level with the remaining 70% determined by agreement among the site, intern, and university. So that they have sufficient opportunities to gain experience across the domains of practice, interns should not be expected to complete more than 30 psycho-educational evaluations over the internship year.
The internship site should provide some time to complete paperwork during the school day. Because school psychologists often complete some paperwork at home, interns should plan to do so as well. Thus, interns typically devote many more than the required 1200 hours to the internship. Moreover, interns are expected to work at the site during the entire academic year. This may require starting earlier and completing later than the official start and end dates for the university.
Throughout the internship, the student must have the opportunity to observe and work with typically developing children and adolescents as well as those with disabilities. Interns should also have opportunities to work with diverse populations including children and adolescents who are at risk, those who are bilingual or English Language Learners, and students eligible for services under either Section 504 or IDEIA.
At least the first 600 hours of the internship must be in a school setting. For clarity, schools are defined as:
Long-term placements that assign grades and lead eventually to graduation. They may be public, private, or parochial schools that serve normally developing children and adolescents as well as those with disabilities.
Neither a substantially separate school that serves students with severe disabilities nor a hospital-based assessment center fits this definition of a school.
Most students continue the second 600 hours in the same school setting. In unique circumstances, an intern may choose to carry out those hours in a non-school setting such as a hospital, clinic, or community mental health center. However, such placements do not lend themselves to completing required assignments such as ecological psycho-educational assessments and case studies with on-going progress monitoring. Therefore, they are extremely rare and are not encouraged.
Most students complete their internships in Massachusetts. Upon occasion, students can request permission from the Program Director to complete the internship out of state. Permission is contingent upon program faculty feeling comfortable with the student’s level of expertise and professional behaviors, as demonstrated by coursework and practicum experiences. If permission is granted, two additional steps must be taken. First, the student will need to submit the “Out-of- State Knowledge of Mass Curriculum Frameworks-Student” letter. Second, if the site is not easily accessible to UMass Boston program faculty, the student bears the responsibility of locating an appropriate university supervisor willing to make three on-site visits over the course of the internship. (This university supervisor is hired as an adjunct professor by UMass Boston.) The program director can assist with this responsibility.
Program Director: Terry Bontrager, PhD at firstname.lastname@example.org