State Gives High Marks to RIC’s C.A.G.S. in School Psychology Program
School psychology program faculty, from left: Professor John Eagle; Assistant Professor Jenlyn Furey; Associate Professor and Counseling, Educational Leadership and School Psychology Interim Chair Monica Darcy; and Associate Professor and School Psychology Program Director Elizabeth Gibbons Holtzman
Following an extensive accreditation process by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), RIC’s Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (C.A.G.S) in school psychology program has been approved, with distinction, for three years.
The program is part of the Counseling, Educational Leadership and School Psychology Department (CEP) within RIC’s Feinstein School of Education and Human Development (FSEHD).
“RIDE’s approval of our school psychology program, with distinction, is an honor of which we are most proud,’’ said FSEHD Dean Donald Halquist. “It recognizes the integrity of the curriculum and the program’s overall design, affirms the deep commitment of the faculty, honors the rich and significant clinically based learning opportunities our candidates experience throughout the program and demonstrates that our candidates are exceedingly well prepared for their work as school psychologists.’’
To achieve distinction, the program earned impressive results on five standards: professional knowledge; clinical partnerships and practice; candidate quality, recruitment and assessment; program impact; and program quality and improvement.
Elizabeth Gibbons Holtzman, associate professor and director of school psychology at RIC, said the program’s distinction status is only one example of strong and robust training programs within CEP, noting that RIC is the only institution in the state and one of three in the Northeast with a clinical mental health counseling program approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Last year, RIC achieved the full eight-year accreditation by CACREP, which evaluates counseling programs at the master’s and doctoral levels in the United States and around the globe.
“We appreciate the state’s acknowledgment of the school psychology program’s hard work in building a reflective, data-informed, continuous evaluation model to ensure our program’s efficacy and areas to continue improving,’’ Holtzman said. “Our graduates are passionate, dedicated leaders and change agents in the schools, providing quality academic, social, emotional and behavioral supports at the individual, family and system level.’’
Ariel DaCosta and Mary Joyce, two students graduating this year from the C.A.G.S. in school psychology program, called the accreditation “thrilling.’’
“I know from first-hand experience as a student and graduate assistant in the department, how hard the school psychology faculty works and how dedicated they are to ensuring that students are well qualified to work in the field,’’ Joyce said.
DaCosta said the program strengthened her collaboration skills, emphasized the importance of teamwork and constantly encouraged students to work together as a cohort to solve problems. A New Bedford native, DaCosta said she plans to teach in her hometown as an elementary school psychologist.
Joyce added that she’d strongly endorse other students to take the C.A.G.S. route. “It’s a great program if you’re interested in being trained by caring, knowledgeable and supportive people and want to make a positive difference in the lives of children and their families,’’ she said. “An added benefit is that school psychologists are in demand right now, so you’ll definitely be able to find a job with a good salary once you finish the program.’’