Specialty Certification in SCHOOL SYSTEMS

Specialty Certification in School Systems is for practitioners (i.e., occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants) who provide and promote occupational therapy in public or private school settings. As described in AOTA’s Guidelines for Occupational Therapy Services in Early Intervention and Schools (2017), school system practice may include:

  • Evaluation of students ages 3 to 21 through Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (602(3)(A)ii)
  • Providing occupational therapy for IDEA-eligible students who are receiving special education services
  • Developing and/or providing supports for students through Early Intervening Services (EIS) or Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)
  • Consultation to and collaboration with school teams to support student success in daily routines

Specialists in school systems possess a focused level of expertise to effectively navigate legislative, professional, environmental, and contextual influences distinct to schools. These practitioners consider a broad client base, which includes individual students with varying disabilities or educational challenges, as well as school systems, educational organizations, and populations concerned with education and school-related activities. A common role of school system practitioners is raising stakeholders’ awareness of the value of students’ occupations and activities. These specialists apply systems-level thinking and are skilled in advocating on behalf of the child and the occupational therapy profession.

Practitioners with specialization in school systems:

  • Collaborate with students, families, and educational team members
  • Instruct and inform students, families, educational team members, and other stakeholders in occupation-based topics
  • Acquire and stay current with knowledge of educational systems (e.g., curriculum, instructional strategies, legislative factors)
  • Adhere to educational policies, and work with school districts and/or employment agencies to align conflicting policies
  • Promote science-driven, evidence-based, holistic practice within school systems
  • Advocate for the client, as well as the profession, in applying a full scope of practice within schools
  • Lead programmatic change within school systems (e.g., transition services, curriculum, educational initiatives)


Download an overview. The completed application will consist of 2 parts: the .pdf application (Part 1), and the portfolio evidence forms (Part 2).  Examples are also provided to help applicants better understand how to complete the various portfolio evidence forms.

SCSS—Occupational therapist (OT)

SCSS-A—Occupational therapy assistant (OTA)


SCSS—Occupational therapist (OT)

Download the overview. Parts 1 and 2 will make up the OT application. Please follow the instructions in Part 1 for submitting your completed application.  

SCSS—Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA)

Download the overview. Parts 1 and 2 will make up the OTA application. Please follow the instructions in Part 1 for submitting your completed application.