M.S./Ed.S. Psychology Education Program Review 2005-2006

Program Review Planning and Review Committee 2005-06

Degree:  M.S. Ed & Ed.S. School Psychology

Program Director:  Jackie Weissenburger

PRC Consultants:  Ed Harris and Bill Bailey

Purpose of the Review: The review was conducted to assess the quality of the M.S Ed. and Ed.S degrees in the School Psychology programs as part of the ongoing seven-year review cycle of every UW-Stout academic program.

Committee Findings: The PRC recommends that the School Psychology programs continue to be one of UW-Stout’s degree programs for the ongoing seven-year cycle, and that recommendations made by the committee be implemented.


Abstract

The M.S.Ed. & Ed.S. in School Psychology can be considered one program with two degrees.  The M.S.Ed. in School Psychology and an additional 30+ credits qualifies the graduate for employment in Wisconsin and Minnesota. If a student adds the credits achieved through the program internship with those of the Ed.S. thesis, he/she can earn the Ed.S. degree. The Ed.S. degree is generally recognized as the minimum degree for a practicing school psychologist.  Many program students choose to pursue the Ed. Specialist degree because of the above logic. This multiple degree phenomenon is also the result of the way this program has evolved over the last seven years. At the time of the last PRC review, in the 1997-98 school year, the degree in School Psychology was a master’s degree.  However, professional standards in school psychology across the nation were being upgraded, and additional certification credits were being added, so it was becoming common in many states to require the Ed.S. degree for licensure.  In 1997-98, Stout offered an Ed.S. degree in Guidance and Counseling and a School Psychology graduate student could achieve this degree with the addition of six credits and the requirement of a written field experience. A fair number of school psychology students availed themselves of this opportunity. Shortly thereafter, the name of the Ed. Specialist degree was changed from Guidance and Counseling to Counseling and Psychological Services, making it still more relevant to school psychology students. Within a few more years, this degree program was suspended, and School Psychology achieved its own Ed. Specialist degree.

The School Psychology program is very successful in that all graduates are readily hired at good salaries, their employers give them top ratings in follow-up studies, and state-wide supervisors who work with our students in their practicums and internships comment positively on the preparation of the students. Part of the success of the program rests on the fact that this program emphasizes counseling, consultation and interpersonal effectiveness more than any other program offered in the state. Stout’s program also offers a stronger experiential learning component than most other programs.

This program has been extensively evaluated: the 1998 PRC review was followed by an extensive status report to this committee in 1999. The program was reviewed for accreditation by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) in 2003-04 and approved until the scheduled 2006 review. In 2003-04 the program underwent a lengthy assessment review by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (Assessment in the Major: School Psychology, 2004-05 Academic Year). These reviews have led to changes that have greatly strengthened the program.


Process Followed for Current Review

The PRC chair met with the dean, program director and coordinating chair to discuss the review process. The PRC consultants also met with the program director to review the procedures and offer assistance. Survey data regarding several aspects of the program were collected from students, key instructors within and outside the department, program committee members and program graduates and their employers.  Based on the above data as well as information provided by an accreditation evaluation and an assessment in the major, Dr. Weissenburger wrote a self-study report and presented the report to the PRC.  Subsequent to that the consultant’s wrote their report which the committee then edited and approved, forwarding the recommendations to relevant administrators and the Faculty Senate.


Previous Review

The previous review for School Psychology was 1997-98. In addition, a status report was submitted to the committee in 1999 by Dr. Weissenburger.  That status report was directed at the seven recommendations made in 1999. What follows are the recommendations and the program director’s response to the recommendations for both the 1997 review and the 1999 status report.

Recommendation Number 1 for the College: The College of Human Development should hire a program director who has a doctorate and is NASP certified.

Response: Jacalyn W. Weissenburger is the current program director. She has her doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota, and she holds the NCSP credential (NASP certified).  Denise Maricle was the previous program director.  She has a doctorate in School Psychology from the University of Northern Colorado, and she holds the NCSP credential.

Summation of Consultants: The recommendation has been accomplished.

Recommendation Number 2 for the College:
The dean for the College of Human Development should provide documentation that the current program has sufficient faculty and appropriate allocations to support this program.

Response:  The school psychology program is now housed within the School of Education. Although the dean of the School of Education has been instrumental in approving the search for two program faculty, the faculty to student ratio and the faculty workload continues to fall short of NASP standards.

Summation of Consultants: Not accomplished.

Recommendation Number 3 for the Program Director:  Evidence must be presented that addresses test kit acquisition.

Response:  Significant improvements have been made to the program’s Test Library since the last program review. At this time, the Test Library contains an impressive array of intellectual, academic, personality, and behavioral assessments. This year, $8,060 has been allocated for the purchase of new assessments.

Summation of Consultants: Accomplished.     

Recommendation Number 4 for the Program Director: The program director must provide evidence of the continued involvement and support of the Program Advisory Committee regarding the pursuit of the Ed.S. in Counseling and Psychological Services.           

Response: The Ed.S. in Counseling and Psychological Services program has been discontinued.

Summation of Consultants: No longer applicable.

Recommendation Number 5 for the Program Director: The program director must explore ways to reduce instructional costs.

Response: Program faculty have written grants for the acquisition of test kits. In addition, tuition has increased substantially for students in the program. Students now pay a per credit fee. As such, if enrollment remains the same, school psychology students will generate $47,042 more revenue for the university per semester. Program costs also have been reduced through hiring more non-doctoral level faculty to cover the program course work and supervision.

Summation of Consultants: Accomplished for the present but an ongoing issue.

Recommendation Number 6 for the Program Director: The program director must provide documentation that addresses the reduction of practicum/internship costs.

Response: Faculty members responsible for practicum supervision make every effort to divide the students based on geographical location to cut down on travel costs. Practicum students also are placed in schools that are not beyond the distance prescribed for practicum students (75 mile radius).

Students are placed nationwide and internationally for their internships. Instead of conducting on-site visits, the interns are now supervised through D2L e-mail exchanges. This practice has substantially decreased mileage and travel costs for supervision.

Summation of Consultants: Accomplished.

Recommendation Number 7 for the Program Director: Evidence must be provided for a revised M.S.Ed. in School Psychology program.

Response: Preliminary steps have been taken to revise the School Psychology program. In 1999, the Ed.S. in School Psychology program was approved. This revision brought the UW-Stout School Psychology program in line with NASP’s standards and best practice, as the specialist degree is viewed as the minimum level of preparation for practitioners in the field. In addition, credit changes were made to two courses. Further, the title of two courses were changed to reflect more contemporary practice and nomenclature (Behavioral Interventions in the Schools [new] versus Behavior Modification [old] and Cognitive Assessment [new] versus Advanced Mental Testing [old]).

Summation of Consultants: Not accomplished.


Program Review

Program Strengths

  1. Objective review data indicates that the full-time enrollment in Stout’s School Psychology program is stable at about 40 students.

    Source:
    Review data and committee hearings.

  2. The placement rate for graduates of the program is essentially 100%.  In fact, many of the students are offered positions even prior to graduation.                                                                      

    Source:
    Review data and information provided by the program director at the committee hearing.

  3. Program instructors are doing an effective job in conveying necessary information to students enrolled in this program.

    Source:
    Student and key instructor surveys.

  4. The program director, given the program’s staffing problems, is performing at an outstanding level as director, instructor, and advisor to this relatively large group of students.

    Source:
    Key instructor surveys.  This information also emerged at the PRC program hearing as members probed the director about issues impacting on the program.

  5. UW-Stout’s program, in comparison with other programs found in the state, offers the students a somewhat unique and effective preparation for their field because of the emphasis on counseling and consultation as related to professional orientations.  Stout’s program was developed with a close connection to its graduate counseling program and this early affinity remains.  In addition, program students devote approximately 2,000 experiential hours over their three-year course of study, more than other competing programs and a noteworthy strength mentioned by state supervisors of Stout’s program students.

    Source:
    Self-study report and committee hearing.

Issues of Concern    

  1. Program students are not getting adequate exposure of ethnic diversity in their course of study.  Most students and instructors are themselves not members of a diverse ethnic or racial group; in addition, practicum sites are typically not ideal for gaining experiences with diverse ethnic groups.

    Source:
    Student surveys, self-study report and committee hearing.

  2. There is some course overlap between two courses in the program: SPED-630 Inclusion of Students with Exceptional Needs and SPSY-778 Psychoeducational Disability.                                                                                                    

    Source:
    Student and key instructor surveys, self-study report and committee hearing.

  3. Program students expressed some concern that two required graduate psychology courses, PSYC-730 Advanced Psychology of Learning, and PSYC-850, were in part, duplicating course material that many students covered in undergraduate courses.

    Source:
    Student and key instructor surveys, self-study report, and committee hearings.

  4. The primary issue of concern for UW-Stout’s M.S.Ed. and Ed.S. programs in School Psychology is the continuing accreditation by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).  The next accreditation review will occur in Fall, 2006 and NASP has already indicated that institutions that don’t have a 1:10 teacher-student ratio and at least three Ph.D. faculty members who are teaching a nine-hour credit load may lose their accreditation.  If Stout were to lose this accreditation, we would have great difficulty attracting students and placing graduates.

    Source:
    Self-study report and committee hearing.

Recommendations for the Program Director

  1. With regards to the concern about the lack of diversity found in this program, the department should continue its effort to hire, in the two faculty recruitments presently underway, persons of color. The program director has proposed that graduate students be given small grants to help recruit a more diverse student body.  In addition, a web-based recruitment video will be used to also aid in recruitment.  Finally, there are efforts underway to include more diversity objectives in program class work.
  2. The program director should continue to waive SPED-630 as a required course and remove this as a requirement in the next program revision.
  3. The program director should consult with the Psychology Department Chair to remedy the problems associated with the two advanced psychology courses that were deemed areas of concern. This concern could, perhaps, be remedied by changing the course objectives or the instructor. A long term solution to the problem may involve transferring the course/objectives to instruction to the School of Education

Recommendation to the Coordinating Chair of the School of Education

  1. There currently are ongoing recruitments for filling two Ph.D. tenure track vacancies with primary responsibility for instruction and advisement for the School Psychology program. These recruitments are vital to the future viability of the program, and the coordinating chair of the School of Education should receive support from administration in this effort to actively pursue a successful search.

Recommendation to the Dean of the School of Education

  1. The dean, in consultation with the coordinating chair and upper administration, should develop policies that would reduce the faculty load for school psychology faculty to nine credits and to reduce the teacher-student ratio to 1:10 in line with the accrediting body guidelines. Finally, the dean should work with the coordinating chair for the above mentioned recruitments, especially in light of the accreditation’s policy of having all graduate courses taught by faculty with a Ph.D. degree.

    The program director has proactively begun to address these issues of concern. This section of recommendations will include not only recommendations but acknowledgments of efforts underway.