Our History

ISPA began its mission to serve the educational and mental health needs of all children and youth on May 5, 1979, in Peoria. On that day, charter members voted to start an organization separate from the Illinois Psychological Association. "And then came the meeting in Peoria, where we sat for hours...huddled in corners, and finally with great trepidation voted to start a separate organization," remembers Mary Ellen Sarbaugh, one of those charter members. They voted to separate from the IPA because master's-level school psychologists paid dues but were barred from full membership rights. Another point of contention between school psychologists and the clinical psychologists of IPA was IPA-supported legislation that would have allowed registered psychologists automatic school psychology certificates without school psychology training or internships. Assisted by the still-new National Association of School Psychologists, ISPA membership grew to 400 within the first year. Now, nearly 30 years later, with 1,200 members, ISPA joins with NASP in recognizing school psychologists as the professionals best able to navigate the social, emotional and academic challenges facing students of the 21st century.