What is a School Psychology Internship?
A school psychology internship is a collaboration between the student’s training program and the field site to provide real world context in which to practice skills learned in the classroom and to learn new information that can only be obtained on the job. The intern, even at the beginning of the school year, can do “real work” for the district: special education student qualification, re-evaluations, cognitive/intelligence assessments, observation and report writing. Through these experiences, the intern learns not only the application of practical skills but the attitudes, values and problem-solving strategies of a school psychologist. All internship work must be done under the supervision of an experienced school psychologist; the intern is not yet able to function on their own, in their own buildings or with their own caseload. Internships in Washington follow the guidelines of the National Association of School Psychologists and consist of a minimum 1200 hour experience that is the culmination of classroom instruction and follows a practicum experience.
Interns must receive an average of at least two hours of field-based supervision per full-time week from a credentialed school psychologist who has a minimum of three years of full-time experience. Both the site supervisor and the intern must agree in writing on the responsibilities of the training program and internship site for providing supervision, support, and evaluation. As the year progresses, interns transition from the role of a learner/student into a fully functioning school psychologist.
Internships generally start before the school year begins and end in the last weeks of the school year. It is considered a full-time placement.
Why does hiring an intern benefit my district?
School districts find multiple benefits from establishing and maintaining internship programs including:
How do I become an established internship site?
Most school districts become internship site by advertising their internship openings in the spring. Districts will hold interview for each internship spot. Sites that offer paid internship attract the most applicants.
Applying from out-of-state?
HOW TO FIND AN INTERNSHIP IN WASHINGTON STATE:
When districts let us know that they have an opening for an intern, it is posted here. This is not a comprehensive list, and more listings may appear over the fall.
You can also look at the Human Resources page of any district where you would like to intern, or reach out to their Special Education administrator and ask if they offer an internship.
Applications are typically due in December, with interviews held in January, although this varies from district to district.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN AN INTERNSHIP IN WASHINGTON STATE:
Every district will do things a little differently, but any district which hosts interns will work with your graduate program to make sure you have opportunities to meet all of your requirements. Districts provide a minimum of 2 hours of supervision per week, but usually much more than that at the beginning of the school year. You will partner with your supervisor and the district to ensure you have the opportunity to address all domains of the NASP Practice Model.
Districts that train interns may accept 1, 2, or several. Districts know that training interns is a great pathway to hiring new school psychologists. Many districts offer paid internships, but this varies by district.
WSASP considers internship to be a training position, not a "do the work of a school psych" position, though in areas with severe shortages, interns are asked to do more independently. Training opportunities can include shadowing the school psychologist, working with multiple supervisors throughout the year, experiencing all levels (from preschool to age 21) and multiple placement sites, participating in professional development along with the school psychologists, participating in academic and social/emotional interventions and analyzing progress-monitoring data, utilizing multiple types of assessments, providing individual or group counseling, observing or participating in special programs such as behavior programs or programs for students with significant disabilities, writing reports, and participating in and leading evaluation team meetings.
SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY IN WASHINGTON:
The role of the school psychologist in WA is changing, slowly, but most school psychologists spend most of their time doing evaluations and consultations. Individual assessment is also still a big part of our job. More often, school psychologists are getting involved in Tier 2 and 3 intervention groups; however, districts and individual schools are at different places in implementing any form of MTSS. Washington State has a dedicated MTSS coordinator, and our state special education director has said that the discrepancy model will be faded from use within a few years. Currently, districts can legally use RTI, PSW, or discrepancy to determine eligibility for Specific Learning Disability. Most districts are still using the discrepancy model due to a lack of strong RTI/MTSS systems. Again, there are plans to change that.
Statewide, our average is about 1 school psychologist for 1100 students. In rural areas, the school psychologist may cover multiple small schools. There are many differences between models in urban/suburban and rural areas.