A five-year, $1.5 million grant awarded to the University of Houston-Victoria at Katy in January will benefit UHV’s psychology program and Katy ISD as well as the community’s demand for school psychologists, officials said.

“I am very excited about the impact this partnership will have on increasing the number of trained licensed specialists in school psychology who could potentially be employed to serve the students of Katy ISD over the next few years,” said Kelli Davidson, KISD coordinator for psychological services.

Elise Hendricker, UHV director for school psychology, said the grant—awarded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Elementary and Secondary Education—gave UHV the opportunity to partner with KISD to train future school psychologists.

Hendricker said the National Association of School Psychologists advocates that there should be one school psychologist for every 500 students in a school.

However, Texas data indicates about one school psychologist for every 2,338 students. KISD employs 52 licensed school psychologists for a district of over 93,678 students, according to Davidson.

“Katy ISD is no different. They are also experiencing a shortage, and that impacts the quality and the amount of services they’re able to provide to their students,” Hendricker said.

The grant opportunity was a nationwide competitive grant for higher education institutes that could partner with local education agencies, according to Hendricker. UHV applied for the grant to increase its psychology department enrollment.

Psychology program expansion

Hendricker said in the 10 years she has worked for the program, she noticed a significant increase in student enrollment.

Today, the program receives 50–60 applications each year, and there are 36 students enrolled in the program for the 2022-23 academic year. According to Hendricker, UHV is operating at its maximum capacity outlined by UHV’s crediting body NASP.

In response to the program’s growth, UHV recently hired additional faculty and plans to hire more within the next year to give more students the opportunity to participate, Hendricker said.

Psychology grant outcome

Hendricker said the majority of the grant will provide 10 students with scholarships to cover the cost of the three-year psychology program at UHV. Interested psychology students can apply before the Feb. 15 deadline and be selected in spring 2024.

Because UHV is a diverse institution, Hendricker said the university hopes to recruit and train a diverse body of school psychologists who can work with diverse children and families.

“This is a really great opportunity for students, and it’s a great opportunity for Katy ISD because especially with COVID[-19] and everything that happened over the past few years, our kids really need support in schools,” she said. “Our teachers need support in knowing how to help kids in the classroom, and that’s what school of psychology is all about.”

A portion of the grant will provide stipends to support KISD supervisors who will work closely with UHV students interning in KISD.

“Opportunities like this are not only good for students, but they’re good for the community at large so that we can have healthy kids and healthy schools,” Hendricker said.