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PEPSC Approves National Certification for School Psychologists

Elizabeth Yelverton | NCASA Legal Affairs and Policy Manager

The Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC) approved today a licensure policy which would accept national certification for out-of-state school psychologists. Currently, North Carolina is in the minority of states that does not accept licensure applicants through the National School Psychology Certification System (NSPCS). As discussed in the meeting, this decision not to accept national licensure has created a recruiting disadvantage for North Carolina, especially since surrounding states such as Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia all recognize applicants with Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credentials.

Members of PEPSC discussed the importance of ensuring school psychological services are available to all students in NC, and recognized that the state still has “a long way to go” in achieving this goal. The National Association of School Psychologists recommends a staffing ratio of 1 school psychologist for every 500-700 students; in 2017-2018, North Carolina Public Schools employed 1 school psychologist for every 2,100 students, according to the 2017-2018 School Psychology Workforce Report.

At the July meeting of the State Board of Education (SBE), the Board requested that PEPSC investigate allowing the Nationally Certified School Psychologists credential to be recognized for a provisional license, in order to help fill the need for school psychologists in North Carolina. The Board also requested PEPSC consider expediting the provisional licensure process for these areas.

After finding that national standards for school psychology training and testing were a 1:1 match with North Carolina’s standards, PEPSC members approved at its September meeting a draft policy which would accept national credentials “to the extent that such certification remains aligned with the licensure requirements for the State of North Carolina.” PEPSC members were not in agreement, however, on language within the draft policy which expedited the provisional licensure process for school psychologists to 30 days, which is shorter than the standard 30-45 days for most licenses. Some members were concerned that this expedited process would give school psychologists priority over teachers, or open the door for other demands on licensure.

At today’s meeting, PEPSC members agreed upon changing the draft policy to allow national school psychology credentials to be accepted for continuing licenses, rather than provisional licenses, as well as eliminating the 30-day language for expedited licensure. PEPSC members unanimously approved to recommend this second draft to the Board of Education, which may act on this issue in future meetings.

Elizabeth Yelverton