Credentialing FAQ

Licensure, Training, Retraining, and Respecialization in School Psychology in Montana: Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What school psychologist licenses are available in Montana?

In Montana, school psychologists are licensed to practice in schools by the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI). Montana offers both a “provisional” Class 5 school psychology endorsement and a “full” Class 6 endorsement. The Class 5 license is a one-time license which is non-renewable and good for 3 years. It is given to applicants that meet all but three areas of curricular standards (see list of curricular standards at end of this document), plus their internship experience (explained in next paragraph). The Class 5 allows someone who is retraining or respecializing and has met most, but not all, of the standards to for a license to work in Montana public schools while they finish remaining coursework deficiencies and obtain intern hours. Those working under a Class 5 license must do so under the supervision of a fully licensed, Class 6, school psychologist who meets the requirements to provide supervision. These requirements include a minimum of three years of experience as a practicing school psychologist and current employment as a school psychologist.

In most cases, those pursuing a respecialization or retraining option will be required to complete a supervised internship experience, which requires the applicant to obtain work experience in a school setting, engaging in school psychology practice in alignment with NASP Standards, and under the direct, formal supervision of a Class 6 school psychologist. These standards are aligned to NASP guidelines, which state that interns must accrue at minimum of 1200 hours of school psychology related experience, with a minimum of 600 hours of occurring in a school setting. Direct supervision is required for a minimum of two hours per week. Unlike other curricular deficiencies, OPI does not require that the internship needs to be taken for college/university credit. Credentialing specialists provide guidance on expectations, contract language, evaluation procedures, internship plans, and will also attempt to help secure proper supervision; however, finding a placement or position in a school/district is ultimately the responsibility of the Class 5 school psychologist.

Question:  How does someone become a licensed school psychologist in Montana?

There are two ways to obtain licensure in school psychology:

  1. Complete a NASP-approved graduate training program. A list of NASP-approved training programs is available on the NASP website:

https://www.nasponline.org/standards-and-certification/graduate-program-approval-and-accreditation/program-approval/approved-programs

There is one school psychology training program in Montana at the University of Montana. Information about course of study, enrollment, and applications are available at the University of Montana Department of Psychology website:

http://hs.umt.edu/psychology/graduates/default.php

  1. For those with a Master’s degree in a related field, one can pursue a license to practice in school by respecializing (if the Master’s degree is in a related area of psychology) or retraining (if the Master’s degree is in a related field, such as education, counseling, or social work).

Question: What are the benefits of completing a NASP-approved graduate training program in school psychology (option #1, above)?

  • Completion of a NASP-approved training program provides comprehensive training in alignment with NASP Standards for Graduate Education
  • Allows for licensing eligibility in all states
  • Provides a pathway to the NCSP (Nationally Certified School Psychologist) credential which allows for licensing reciprocity across more than 30 states and is a more efficient path to state licensure should one relocate outside the state of Montana. Additionally, many districts recognize the NCSP credential with a stipend.

Question: I’m interested in school psychology, but I’m not able to relocate to pursue a degree. What are my options?

Recognition of consistent shortages of school psychologists in Montana, particularly in more rural locales, led the Montana Office of Public instruction to offer an alternative path (option #2, above) to licensure based on the following: a) a Master’s degree, or higher, in a “related” field and b) completion of curricular standards at the graduate level to prepare one to practice as a school psychologist. These standards were reformulated in 2010 by members of OPI and school psychology professionals to more closely align with school psychology training programs standards as dictated by NASP.

Question: What is the process or pursuing respecialization or retraining in school psychology (option #2, above)?

If you have a Master’s degree, or higher, in a related field you may be eligible to take advantage of this alternative path to school psychology licensure in the state of Montana. Related fields are generally those in another area of psychology (e.g. clinical or counseling psychology) or education (e.g. school counseling, special education, educational leadership, etc.). A first step is to contact the Chair of the Montana Association of School Psychologists Credentialing and Professional Standards Board (CPSB), who will arrange to have credentialing specialists review graduate transcripts relative to the curricular standards. Reviewers will identify courses previously taken at the graduate level that meet the criteria in the standards as well as any areas of deficiency that remain.

Question: How do I address the deficiencies identified in the review?

Areas of reported curricular deficiencies can be made up by enrolling in, and successfully completing, a course that covers that standard. These courses need to be for full credit, at the graduate level, and from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States. A grade of B, or better, is required. Applicants will ultimately need to provide proof to the OPI via official transcripts from each institution from which courses were taken.

The OPI does not specify from which college or university graduate credits need to be obtained. Further, there is not a centralized program for respecializing or retraining at any one Montana college or university. Applicants can take courses in-person or online, as long as they meet the above standards. Any applicant that pursues this process will want to have courses vetted by a member of the CPSB, in advance, to ensure that a course will adequately cover an indicated deficiency area. This is most often done by Dr. Greg Machek (greg.machek@umontana.edu), a faculty member in the University of Montana’s School Psychology Graduate Training Program.

Question: Are there any drawbacks to pursuing school psychology licensure through respecializing or retraining?

The following are some considerations for those interested in pursuing the respecialization/retraining option:

  • While this process can lead to licensure in the state of Montana, it does not guarantee reciprocity in other states as many states may require a degree in school psychology or maintain their own standards for licensing that differ from those in Montana. This is an important consideration for those who may foreseeably move out of the state in the future.
  • This option does not result in a degree and therefore there may be implications for salary steps in school districts and special education cooperatives. Interested applicants are encouraged to address any questions with Human Resources personnel.
  • This option does not allow an individual to pursue the NCSP credential.

Question: Who do I contact with questions?

Shawna Rader Kelly (shawna.rader@gmail.com) and Greg Machek (greg.machek@gmail.com)

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