NIU receives $5.1 million to train K-12 school psychologists

By Bridgette Fox, Written Managing Editor

DeKALB – In acknowledgment of the shortage of K-12 school psychologists in Northern Illinois, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded NIU a $5.1 million grant to train at least 24 psychologists to ease the crisis.

NIU’s School Psychology Program is working with Northern Illinois educators via a three-year program called “Preparing Educators as School Psychologists in Northern Illinois.” The classes are offered online so educators can continue to work on their jobs. Educators participating in this training will not be paying for tuition, fees and laptops and will receive stipends for some learning expenses.

After finishing the program, the newly trained psychologists will be serving the project’s partners: The DeKalb School District, the Harlem School District, the Belvidere School District and the Northwest Special Education Cooperative.

Participants in this program must commit to five years to fill psychological needs in their school district.

“Our traditional school psychology program is nationally known, has been very successful and has a long history of engaging and being collaborative with partners,” said NIU Psychology Professor Christine Malecki, director of NIU’s School Psychology Program. “But we haven’t been able to grow our traditional program because of the required additional resources. This new project will take our efforts to the next level, in terms of responding to a dramatic need in our region.”

The program is built around working with educators’ schedules so it doesn’t impose on teaching students.

“Our partner districts indicated that many of their educators are interested in training to become school psychologists,” said NIU Assistant Psychology Professor Julia Ogg. “But they couldn’t afford to quit teaching to attend graduate school full-time. Our new program addresses these financial and time concerns.”

The program will give participants a degree in school psychology, which is classified as a degree beyond a master’s degree.