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New Mexico State University

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NMSU receives $800,000 to train culturally diverse school psychologists

New Mexico State University's College of Education has received an $800,000 federal grant for a program to address nationwide shortages of school psychologists with a focus on ethnic and linguistic diversity.

Elsa Arroyos-Jurado, an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology at New Mexico State University, will coordinate a five-year grant program to train culturally and linguistically diverse school psychologists. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

The grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs awards the university $200,000 a year for four years to train 60 students with an emphasis on bilingual capabilities and services to children and their families from diverse backgrounds.

"As a whole the population is diversifying so we need to fill vacancies nationwide with school psychologists trained to deliver quality services to children and families from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds," said Elsa Arroyos-Jurado, an assistant professor in the counseling and educational psychology (CEP) department and coordinator for the grant.

The grant funding will pay tuition and stipends to 12 new students per year and allow for a visiting faculty member to join the CEP department. Participating students will sign a service contract committing to work in the school psychology field two years for every year they participate in the grant.

"This program is focused on turning out needed practitioners," Arroyos-Jurado said.

Arroyos-Jurado said the National Association of School Psychologists' most recent survey of the field showed that "many school psychologists are serving well above the recommended ratio of 1,000 students to every one psychologist."

"Even more severe are the dismal numbers of ethnic minority school psychologists, especially those that represent linguistically diverse backgrounds," she said.

Arroyos-Jurado points out that fewer than 10 percent of school psychologists fluently speak a language other than English.

"A severe shortage in minority school psychologists will continue, unless more direct methods to recruit students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to school psychology programs are implemented," Arroyos-Jurado said.

For this grant project, language courses will be added to the already rigorous school psychology curriculum, but this will allow graduates to apply for bilingual endorsements for their licenses, she said.

Graduates from the program receive a Specialist in Education degree in school psychology from the Counseling and Educational Psychology Department. Established 10 years ago, the program received accreditation from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) in 2005.

For more information about the school psychology program or the new grant funding, call Arroyos-Jurado at (505) 646-6589.