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Georgia schools in need of more psychologists

By Pepper Baker

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. โ€” The National Association of School Psychologists recommends a ratio of 1 school psychologists for every thousand students. Now, most states don’t meet that standard.

Georgia is one of them.

Houston County Student Services Coordinator Monica Smith breaks down Georgia’s ratio of one school psychologist for every 2,400 students.

“School psychologists serve about three to four schools, depending on the student and the school’s needs or population,” She said.However, school counselors are different.

“School counselors, there’s one in every school,” Smith said.

They handle student schedules and daily social and emotional support. Psychologists diagnose behaviors that may conflict with a student’s learning abilities.

“They are there to complete testing with them and to looking at if we need to provide additional academic support for these students,” Smith said.

12th grader Edna Rutland says every school should have a psychologist on campus.

“The schools putting that focus on mental health and having a school psychologist, it shows us that they care about us,” She said.

She believes students need them more today than ever before.

“I’m seeing things my parents didn’t see until they were well into their 20s, well into their teens, well into when they were out in the world. Every single day, you’re exposed to so much information,” Rutland said.

Smith says one reason there’s a psychologist shortage is because of the amount of schooling needed to become certified.

“Telling them that they’ve got to go four years for bachelors, two years for masters, and a year for your specialist could scare them away from that,” Smith said.

The National Association School Psychologists lists Georgia Southern University, Georgia State University, University of Georgia, and Valdosta State University as the only institutions in the state where people can become nationally certified as a school psychologist.

The state’s Association of School Psychologists says school psychologists need more training than any other entry-level employees in the school system.


Feb 7, 2019

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