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Date of Graduation

Summer 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Educational Specialist (EdS)


Department of Graduate Psychology


A. Renee Staton

Patricia Warner

Tammy Gilligan


School psychology is moving toward more culturally competent practice; one way of attaining that is through increasing the number of culturally diverse practitioners. African-Americans in particular are needed. Various factors including a negative perception of psychology and lacking knowledge of school psychology contribute to the low numbers of members of this ethnic group in school psychology. Social justice issues, such as prejudice and disproportionality in special education seemingly affect minority groups’ interest in the field; however, little research has been conducted to examine this interaction. Effective recruitment and retention strategies to increase the number of African-American school psychologists in the context of social justice were explored via survey and focus group in the current study. There were 33 survey participants, including graduate students and practitioners. Of those, 2 people participated in a follow-up focus group. Results suggest that culturally diverse faculty, mentorship, financial support, and establishing graduate school psychology programs at historically Black colleges and universities would encourage recruitment. Social justice issues do appear to affect recruitment efforts, specifically experiencing identity threat from being in a majority Caucasian learning environment and knowledge of the large number of African-American students in special education. Furthermore, focus group data suggests that an open environment to discuss cultural differences in a predominately Caucasian graduate program is vital to retaining African-American school psychology graduate students. Implications for practice and future research include creating culturally accepting programs where identity threat may be decreased and drawing more African-American psychologists into academia as faculty members.

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