Cincinnati created a Vocational Bureau in its school system in 1910, followed by Cleveland schools offering testing for mental abilities in 1912 within its Medical Clinic, utilizing the Binet-Simon Scale (1905). Detroit soon followed, establishing a school-based clinic facility in 1914. By the mid-1910s, 84 city school systems in the nation offered psychological tests.
In 1917, a psychological clinic was established in the Cleveland Public Schools by Bertha M. Luckey, PhD, Chief Examiner and Psychologist for Cleveland’s school system (born in California and educated at the University of Nebraska [PhD 1916]), who continued to guide the department until her retirement in 1960. The Cleveland Clinic, as it was known at the time, was initially under the auspices of the schools’ Medical Clinic; by 1920, it became part of the Bureau of Educational Research.
By 1928, the newly-named Psychological Clinic expanded to include ten personnel: four PhD psychologists, three MA degreed psychologists, one examiner with general psychological training, one assistant and a secretary. Six of these examiners worked in the schools and were assigned to 15,000 students each. At this time, the Clinic was under the supervision of the Assistant Superintendent for Special Classes and Services.
During the post-World War II baby boomer years, as Cleveland schools’ enrollment swelled to over 150,000 students in the1960s (housed in 189 schools), and as a greater understanding of learning differences and mental health challenges emerged in the psychiatric and psychological fields, the now-named Psychological Department expanded its level of services to children and adolescents. In 1967, the name was changed once again to the Division of Psychological Services, under the Department of Personnel and Pupil Personnel Services in the Cleveland Public Schools (later, the Department of Pupil Personnel), and the staff grew in size to 39 to meet the increasing student population. As PL 94-142 was enacted in 1975, the depth and breadth of psychological services changed to reflect compliance with the new law, and staff numbers increased to address these changes.
Today, the Office of Psychological Services is housed within the Department of Intervention Services (Special Education) and is comprised of nearly 90 advance-degreed (PhD, PsyS, EdS, and Masters’ level), licensed school psychologists who provide comprehensive services to Cleveland students. Although the now-named Cleveland Metropolitan School District has seen a decrease in enrollment over time, the need for special education and differentiated instruction continues, stemming from the very first “pilot project” class organized in the late 1890s and the first formalized special class initiated in the 1905-1906 school year. These highly trained school psychology experts identify student needs, thus ensuring that Cleveland’s children have the opportunity to receive appropriate services for their individualized academic, social-emotional, and behavioral challenges.