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School Psychology Training in a Nonpublic Special Education School John T. Beetar 1,2 Kennedy Krieger Institute 1 , Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 2. INTRODUCTION. TRAINING Exposure to ‘best practices’ of school-based psychological services.

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Training exposure to best practices of school based psychological services

School Psychology Training in a

Nonpublic Special Education School

John T. Beetar1,2

Kennedy Krieger Institute1, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine2



  • Exposure to ‘best practices’ of school-based psychological services.

  • Assistance with the behavioral and cognitive assessment of KKSP students.

  • Training in functional behavioral assessment (FBA) or neuropsychological assessment depending on the site and referral question.

  • Opportunities to gain experience with behavioral and cognitive interventions, consultation with teachers and related staff, and the provision of mental health services.

  • Supervision provided by licensed psychologists and certified school psychologists. On staff, there are a board certified behavior analyst and a board certified clinical neuropsychologist.

  • Experience in working with regular education students in the Public School Partnership Program.

  • Opportunities to participate in research activities.

  • Nonpublic special education facilities provide educational and therapeutic services to students identified with disabilities.

  • The Maryland Association of Non-Public Special Education Facilities (MANSEF) are designed for students who are unsuccessful in the most restrictive levels of their local public schools (LSS).

  • Funding for MANSEF schools is provided by the Maryland State Department of Education (80%) and the student’s local school system (20%) for instruction and related services. The funding ratio in 2009-10 will be: MSDE = 70% and the LSS = 30%.


  • KKSP offer special education and related services in a day-school setting to students aged 3-22.

  • There are approximately 775 students in lower, middle, and high schools, as well as in partnership and specialized school programs.

  • Students have a wide range of learning, emotional, physical, neurological and developmental disabilities.

  • The specialized programs serve students with relatively severe cognitive and behavioral challenges.

  • In both the lower/middle and high schools, autism is the predominant classification.

  • In the lower/middle school, more than half of the students are classified with autism.

  • In the high school, the number of students classified with autism has increased more than 200% from 2004 to 2008.

  • These prevalence rates do not include students with a primary classification of Multiple Disabilities of which autism is often a part.

  • KKSP prevalence rates are consistent in general with epidemiological studies that report an increased incidence of autism in the general population (Bertrand et al, 2001; Fombonne, 2003).

  • While the number of autism classifications has increased, the number of students with a Multiple Disabilities classification decreased from 2004 to 2008.

  • The reasons for this inverse relationship could reflect the changing population of a nonpublic special education school such as KKSP as well as strict criteria, in 2008 only, for a coding of Multiple Disabilities.


  • Given the prevalence data on autism in epidemiological studies and nonpublic special education schools, such as KKSP, as well as its diagnostic complexity, it is becoming increasingly apparent that school psychologists need to be highly skilled in dealing with students classified as autistic.

  • Furthermore, to be competitive in the job market, particularly if seeking employment in nontraditional settings, school psychologists ideally will have had significant exposure to populations with moderate to severe disabilities.


  • Bertrand, J., Mars, A., Boyle, C., Bove, F., Yeargin-Allsop, M., & Decloufe, P. (2001). Prevalence of autism in a United States population: The Brick Township New Jersey investigation. Pediatrics, 108,1155-1161.

  • Fombonne, E. (2003). Epidemiological surveys of autism and other pervasive developmental disorders: An update. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33, 365-382.