A bill progressing in the General Assembly would address a decline in licensed school psychologists in North Carolina by extending reciprocity to licensed school psychologists from other states, allowing school psychologists’ certification by the National Association of School Psychologists. House Bill 933 passed the House unanimously last week and is, as of this writing, in committee in the Senate.

The John Locke Foundation has promoted both offering reciprocity in licensing and recognizing certification as ways to expand employment opportunities in North Carolina.

Certification is important because professional certification services exist for most any profession, filling obvious market needs: consumers need to find professionals who know their stuff, and practitioners need to show consumers they’ve met professional standards of competence and quality. JLF also recognizes that licensing is the most restrictive state occupational regulation and should therefore be used only as a policy of last resort.

Currently in North Carolina (see below), being nationally certified as a school psychologist by the National Association of School Psychologists is considered insufficient.

With respect to reciprocity (i.e., granting licenses to practitioners who have earned licenses from other states), JLF encourages it for “job categories that continue to be licensed in North Carolina … in order to encourage greater competition here through in-migration.” Licensed school psychologists moving to North Carolina would not be able to work here right away, even though there’s a need for their services, because of the state’s current strict licensing requirements.

Research increasingly finds that a lack of reciprocity among state licenses is reducing interstate migration and making it harder especially for poorer workers to improve their incomes and prospects. States sometimes acknowledge this burden when it comes to military spouses.

Opening school doors to more nationally certified school psychologists

Currently, to become a licensed school psychologist in North Carolina, you must:

  • Hold a Professional Educator’s Continuing License
  • Complete an approved school psychology program in at the sixth-year level (about 75 credit-hours)
  • Pass the Praxis exam for school psychology

The bill would create an alternative path to a school psychologist license alongside current licensing:

  • Hold a Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential from the National Association of School Psychologists

That certification includes:

  • 60 credit-hours’ of graduate level coursework in a school psychology program
  • a series of supervised practicum experiences
  • 1,200 hours in a school psychology internship, at least half of which must be in a school setting
  • passing the school psychology Praxis

This change would open reciprocity for licensed school psychologists between North Carolina and 32 other states, including neighboring and nearby states of South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, and Maryland.