UHV school psychology program becomes nationally accredited
The University of Houston-Victoria’s Specialist in School Psychology program recently was awarded a national accreditation that will help the university recruit new students and streamline the professional certification process for the program’s graduates.
The National Association of School Psychologists accredited the program earlier this month, and UHV is now one of only 13 Texas universities accredited by the association, said Craig Goodman, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. The association is the world’s largest organization of school psychologists.
“This is a historic accomplishment for the School of Arts & Sciences because school psychology is the first nationally accredited program in the school,” Goodman said. “Doctors Hendricker and Viola have worked tirelessly to build the program, and it is a wonderful moment for students and faculty in the school psychology program.”
The six-year accreditation period will begin Aug. 1 and comes after much work by the school’s faculty and staff.
“Earning accreditation is a substantial undertaking, and we are ecstatic to have received this stamp of approval,” said Shannon Viola, UHV associate professor and director of the school psychology program. “After years of compiling reports, adjusting our program and courses, and an intensive review process, we are proud to reach this milestone for our program and the students we serve.”
Accreditation is a boon in many ways for UHV’s program and its students, said Elise Hendricker, associate professor of school psychology and chair of the social and behavioral sciences division. It is a sign to future employers that graduates of the program are equipped with the training and knowledge they need. It’s also a strong assurance for families that the psychological professionals helping their students are well-trained and competent in the field.
For the program’s graduates, accreditation offers a streamlined process when it comes to applying for professional certification. Graduates of programs that are not accredited need to take intensive steps to prepare evidence of their training, including a comprehensive course list of their degree program and an intensive portfolio of their training and experience that must be submitted for evaluation. Students from accredited programs can skip these steps and face a much less intensive application process.
“UHV’s certification is especially exciting because our program is one of the few that offers a distance learning option,” Hendricker said. “Normally, school psychology programs require students to be on campus and learn in person. This stamp of approval shows that online learning can be just as effective.”
UHV’s accreditation is exciting for students like Juliet Polk of Richmond, who just finished her practicum with Lamar Independent School District. Polk was a teacher for 11 years before she decided to pursue a career in school psychology. She first became interested in the field after working with students and referring them to be tested for disabilities or accommodations.
“There were times when students were denied eligibility, and I could not understand why,” Polk said. “I decided I wanted to have a better understanding of how that assessment process worked so I could help students and their families.”
Now, as she is drawing close to the end of the program and preparing to apply for certification, she is grateful for the education and support she has received through UHV’s school psychology program.
“Accreditation is an overdue honor,” Polk said. “UHV’s program is excellent, especially when it comes to the faculty members. They are always ready to go above and beyond to help students understand concepts and prepare for their careers.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.