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Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

Congress has begun efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced the Strengthening America's Schools Act. Senator Lamar Alexander, Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2013 and Rep. John Kline, Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, introduced the Student Success Act.

Strengthening America's Schools Act

Although there are a number of provisions included in this bill that NASP supports, we have provided suggestions for how to improve the language contained in this bill. NASP's full response to this bill can be found here. Below is a summary of the provision that NASP supports, as well as our suggestions for changes.

School Psychologists

NASP Supports

  • Explicitly define school psychologists
  • Explicitly reference the NASP recommended ratio of 1 school psychologist per 700 students and how school districts are working towards meeting this ratio.

NASP Recommends

  • Inclusion of the term ‘school psychologist’ in the enumerated list of professionals that promote students’ physical health, mental health, and well-being.

Assessments

NASP Supports

  • Encourage states and districts to utilize the principles of Universal Design for Learning when creating state academic assessments.
  • Encourage the use of growth models in conjunction with formative and/or summative assessments when measuring student achievement
  • Encourage consultation with specialized instructional support personnel (e.g school psychologists) in creating state accountability and assessment plans.

Safe and Supportive Conditions for Learning

NASP Supports

  • Allow states to use Title I dollars to implement or expand the use of positive behavior interventions and supports;
  • Encourage states and districts to collect and report measures of conditions for learning;
  • Increase the availability of behavioral, social, emotional, and mental health supports in schools;
  • Increase the focus on addressing barriers to learning and providing appropriate academic and non-academic interventions.
  • Ensure that schools are free of bullying and harassment

NASP Recommends

  • Explicit guidance on how community partners will collaborate with school employed mental health professionals in any partnership program designed to address student's behavioral, social, emotional, or mental health.

Every Child Ready for College or Career

This bill contains some provisions that NASP supports; however, it does not contain an explicit definition of 'school psychologist', which NASP is advocating for. Highlights of components that NASP supports, as well as those that we oppose are summarized below. The full NASP response to this piece of legislation can be read here.

School Psychologists

NASP Supports

  • Inclusion of professionals such as school psychologists in the creation of plans to identify students in need of interventions.

NASP Recommends

  • Utilization of the term “specialized instructional support personnel' to better align ESEA with IDEA.
  • Explicit definition of the term 'school psychologist”.
  • Local education agencies demonstrate how they are working towards a ratio of 1 school psychologist for every 700 students.

Assessments

NASP Supports

  • Encouragement of Universal Design for Learning principles in development of state academic assessments
  • The use of multiple measures of student achievement, including measures of higher-order thinking skills

NASP Recommends

  • Encouragement of the use of Multi-Tier Systems of Support
  • Reinstating the 2% cap on students that can be assessed using alternate or modified achievement standards.
  • Inclusion of meaningful performance goals for students with disabilities as well as the requirement that struggling students have access to meaningful instructional interventions or supports.

Safe Supportive Conditions for Learning

NASP Supports

  • Increasing the availability of behavioral, social, emotional, and mental health supports.
  • Requirement that Local Education Agencies conduct a needs assessment to determine the most appropriate school wide interventions if receiving funds form the Safe and Healthy Students grant program.

NASP Recommends

  • Collection and reporting of school climate indicators by local education agencies.
  • Assurance that any professional delivering mental health services in the school has the qualifications to provide such services in the school setting.
  • Assurance that any partnership formed to deliver behavioral, social, emotional, and mental health supports in schools:
    • involve collaboration between school-employed mental health professionals and community providers
    • supplement, not supplant, services provided by school employed mental health professionals
    • supplement, not supplant, school employed mental health professionals
    • demonstrate that the community partner has expertise in using strategies and programs that are based on scientifically valid research to improve teaching, learning, and schools.

Student Success Act

Although no piece of legislation is perfect, NASP has serious concerns with the language in this bill. Specifically, NASP is concerned with the lack of guidance this bill gives regarding the availability and the necessity of appropriate learning supports for all students as well as the potential impact the proposed policies will have on students with disabilities. Although NASP supports the encouragement for increased parental involvement in schools and districts, we are unable to fully support the majority of the policies proposed in this bill. NASP's full response to this piece of legislation can be found here.

NASP Recommends

  • Explicit definition of 'school psychologist.'
  • Language in regard to the importance of prevention and intervention services, including those designed to address the behavioral, social, emotional and mental health of students.
  • Challenging academic standards for all students, including those with disabilities.
  • Appropriate and challenging assessments for all students, including those with disabilities.

What is NASP doing?

NASP continues to meet with key officials in the Department of Education, policy makers in the Senate, policy makers in the House, and leaders of our coalition partners to ensure that our public policy recommendations are considered and included in the reauthorization of ESEA.

What can you do?

  • Continue to reach out to your elected officials to remind them of the importance of school psychologists and school psychological services.
  • Periodically re-visit this page for policy updates and suggested action.