NASP Policy Platform

Federal Public Policy and Legislative Platform for the First Session of the 115th Congress (2017-2018)

The vision of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) is that all children and youththrive in school, at home, and throughout life. NASP committed to ensuring that all students-whatever their race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender (including identification andexpression), sexual orientation, disability status, language proficiency or immigration status-receive ahigh-quality public education in a positive, safe, supportive, and inclusive educational environment thatis free of bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence and promotes student learning.

Critical to this effort is ensuring adequate and equitable access to school psychologists andcomprehensive school psychological services.

This 2017-2018 Public Policy and Legislative Platform represents overarching policy goals andrecommendations that support the mission and vision of NASP, promote the guiding principlesarticulated in Ready to Learn, Empowered to Teach and NASP Position Statements, and help advance theNASP Key Initiatives. The platform also includes specific legislative and/or regulatory goals for thefirst session of the 115th Congress. This document will be periodically updated to reflect newlegislation or policy proposals relevant to our platform. Although this document is specific to federalpolicy issues, state school psychology associations could adapt these goals to fit the specific advocacyand policy goals of their states and local districts.

I. Remedy the shortages in school psychology.

Key Policy Goals:

  • Ensure Congress, the Department of Education, and other relevant agencies prioritizetechnical assistance and guidance to assist state and district efforts to recruit and retain schoolpsychologists. This includes a long-term and sustained commitment to align staffing ratioswith recommendations generated from national professional organizations to allow for thedelivery of a full range of services.
  • Expand Health Service Corps Loan Forgiveness grants to include licensed and/or certifiedschool psychologists.
  • Secure Congressional appropriations to allow for loan forgiveness of school psychologists asgranted under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
  • Encourage Congress and/or the Department of Education and relevant credentialing bodiesto create pathways to grant credentialing reciprocity for school psychologists across state lines,such as the Nationally Certified School Psychologist certificate, to help remedy the shortagesin rural and other underserved areas.
  • Maintain, at a minimum, level funding for Behavioral Health Workforce Grants, administeredby HRSA, which provides financial support for school psychology interns with a specific focuson those serving in rural or underserved communities.
  • Amend federal data collections, such as the CRDC and other data collected by the NationalCenter for Education Statistics, to collect and report data on the number of FTE 'schoolpsychologists.' Further, these collections should be amended to require the reporting of FTEschool psychologists, employed by the school district. Current data collections aggregateseveral professions into one category, resulting in the misrepresentation of available serviceprofessionals.
  • Advance legislation that increases access to fully certified and/or licensed schoolpsychologists.
  • Restrict, minimize, or limit alternate or emergency credentialing that allow relatedprofessionals to supplant school psychologists when providing school psychological services.

Supporting Legislation:

Increased Student Achievement Through Increased Student Support Act (Coming Soon): This legislation directs the Secretary of Education to award competitive, renewable, 5-year grants to partnerships between low-income local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools offering graduate programs in school counseling, social work, or psychology to increase the number of program graduates employed by low-income LEAs.

POST GRAD Act (H.R. 2526): The POST GRAD Act amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to reinstate the authority of the Secretary of Education to make Federal Direct Stafford Loans to graduate and professional students.

II. Increase access to comprehensive school mental and behavioral health services.

Key Policy Objectives:

  • Secure adequate funding for Title I, Title II, and Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
  • Advance legislation that increases access to comprehensive school and community mentalhealth services, and reduce disparities in mental health service delivery, especially amongunderserved populations.
  • Promote efforts to implement Mental Health First Aid and other relevant professionaldevelopment for educators.
  • Advance efforts to increase funding to support trauma informed practices in schools.
  • Direct the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and other relevant federalagencies to provide incentives, guidance, and technical assistance for school districts toprioritize a multitiered system of support (MTSS) framework that includes both academic andmental and behavioral health services (including trauma-informed practices). This guidanceshould emphasize the importance of access to school-employed mental health professionals(e.g., school psychologists, school social workers, school counselors) that can provide acomprehensive range of services within the school context, ranging from direct individuallevelservices to systems-level prevention and intervention services.
  • Ensure federal grants intended to improve school mental health service delivery, including theFull Service Community Schools program, advance school community mental healthpartnerships that:
    • supplement, not supplant, existing school based services;
    • clearly articulate the roles of school-employed and community-employed mental healthprofessionals; and foster coordination and collaboration between school and community mental healthprofessionals.
  • Demonstrate, through guidance from the Department of Education and other relevantagencies, how various funding streams can be used to provide ongoing, high-qualityprofessional development related to effective delivery of high-quality comprehensive mentalhealth services.
  • Ensure school psychologists are properly recognized as qualified providers of mental andbehavioral health in statute, regulation, and credentialing policy at the federal, state, and locallevels.
  • Protect Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program to ensure that low incomechildren have access to comprehensive health care that includes mental and behavioral health.
  • Direct the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services to update the Administrative Claiming Technical Assistance Guide, published in 1995, to reflect language in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that school psychologists are qualified providers of mental and behavioralhealth services. Further, the guide should clarify that this language, "Medicaid regulations requirethat provider qualifications be uniform and standard. This means that states cannot have one set of providerqualifications for school providers and another set of provider qualifications for all other providers," does notmean that school psychologists, and other school professionals need to be credentialed toprovide services in the school AND community setting in order to be considered a qualifiedprovider of Medicaid services.
  • Direct the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to issue guidance and technical assistanceon how states can leverage the reversal of the Free Care rule to expand access to mental andbehavioral health services in schools.
  • Elevate the role of school psychologists as mental and behavioral health providers in relevantmaterials published by the Department of Education, relevant agencies, and federally fundedtechnical assistance centers.

Supporting Legislation:

Mental Health in Schools Act (H.R. 2913 and S. 1370): The Mental Health in Schools Act would provide funding for public schools across the country to partner with local mental health professionals to establish on-site mental health care services for students. 

American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628) (Oppose): The proposed plan would shift an estimated $370 billion in Medicaid costs to states over the next ten years, effectively ending the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Medicaid expansion for 11 million people while also harming tens of millions of additional seniors, people with disabilities, and children and parents who rely on Medicaid today. In response, states would have to contribute much more of their own funding or, far likelier, substantially cut eligibility, benefits, and provider payments. Cuts to Medicaid leave students without access to mental and behavioral health care.

III. Ensure all students have access to comprehensive learning supports provided within an integrated service delivery system (e.g., MTSS).

Key Policy Objectives:

  • Maintain regulatory language in relevant education legislation that allows federal funds to beused to implement MTSS and other tiered systems of support.
  • Direct the Department of Education to release guidance for schools and districts about how toutilize specialized instructional support personnel to help support the needs of all students,improve school climate, and improve school and student success.
  • Promote efforts to improve intra-agency collaboration that facilitates systemic collaboration atthe state and local level.
  • Advance efforts that facilitate the education of the whole child.
  • Promote legislation/regulation that improves access to comprehensive and high-qualityliteracy and mathematics instruction.
  • Ensure that school psychologists and other specialized instructional support personnel areexplicitly mentioned in legislation and other specific grant programs intended to addressliteracy, social-emotional learning, school climate, and other factors that promote studentlearning.
  • Maintain funding for the Technical Assistance Center for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and the National Center for Systemic Improvement to facilitate the implementationand scaling up of evidence-based efforts to improve comprehensive service delivery, studentlearning, and student well-being. Advance efforts to create an Office of Specialized Instructional Support Personnel within the Department of Education to facilitate coordinated and integrated service delivery for allstudents in schools and local education agencies.

Supporting Legislation:

Reducing Barriers to Learning Act (Coming Soon): This legislation would establish an Office of Specialized Instructional Support Personnel and create a grant program for State Education Agencies to build the capacity of local education agencies to develop programs and train personnel dedicated to removing barriers to learning. 

Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act (H.R. 1757and S.744): This legislation addresses the psychological, social, and emotional needs of children, youth, and families who have experienced trauma, and establishes a task force.  

Juvenile Justice Reform Act (H.R. 1809 and S.860): This legislation reauthorizes and improves the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, wnich provides funds to states that follow a series of federal protections, known as the "core protections," on the care and treatment of youth in the justice system.

IV. Ensure school environments are safe and supportive for all students.

Key Policy Objectives:

  • Advance legislation that extends existing antidiscrimination and harassment protections toexplicitly include real or perceived gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
  • Reject efforts to rescind protections offered to transgender students under Title IX, asarticulated in the guidance released by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights inMay 2016.
  • Maintain funding for SAMHSA to convene the National LGBTQI-2S Workgroup.
  • Continue the existing efforts of the Department of Education and other relevant agencies todesignate resources to help implement evidence-based, school-wide policies and practices thatreduce bullying, harassment, violence, and discrimination for all students.
  • Reject efforts to abolish Gun Free School Zones.
  • Reject legislation that seeks to allow anyone other than a commissioned school resource office(SRO) or other law enforcement official to be armed on school grounds.
  • Support legislation that seeks to prevent people who are of an immediate threat of danger tothemselves or others from having access to firearms.
  • Oppose efforts that seek to systematically discriminate against children or youth on the basisof race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, gender identification, genderexpression, sexual orientation, disability status, language proficiency, or immigration status.
  • Support efforts to ensure a stable education for homeless youth and children in foster care.
  • Support efforts to prevent human trafficking and provide trauma informed and gender responsive care to victims.
  • Maintain funding for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, operated by the NationalInstitutes of Justice.

Supporting Legislation:

Safe Schools Improvement Act (Coming Soon): The Safe Schools Improvement Act would require all schools receiving federal funds authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. SSIA would also require that states report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.

Student Nondiscrimination Act (Coming Soon): The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) prohibits public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, SNDA prohibits discrimination against any student because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of a person with whom a student associates or has associated. Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act (H.R. 2119 and S.928) This legislation bans the practice of conversion therapy treatments that claim to be able to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511 and S. 611): The Homeless Children and Youth Act allows local communities to use federal funding to target the unique needs of their homeless child and youth population, as well as help local communities leverage additional public and private resources to meet the needs of children, youth and families.  

Equality Act (H.R. 2282 and S. 1006): This legislation provides non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, including education. The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics.

V. Promote evidence-based comprehensive school safety and crisis response efforts.

  • Employ effective, positive school discipline within federal and state policies that: (a) functionsin concert with efforts to address school safety and climate; (b) is not simply punitive (e.g.,zero tolerance); (c) is clear, consistent, and equitable; and (d) reinforces positive behaviors.Using security personnel or SROs primarily as a substitute for effective discipline policies doesnot contribute to school safety and can perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline.
  • Allow for blended, flexible use of funding streams in education and mental health services atthe federal, state, and local levels to support effective school safety.
  • School safety strategies must balance physical and psychological safety measures. Reasonable physical security such as locked doors, lighted hallways, and visitor check-in systems must becombined with efforts to promote a positive school climate and trust among staff, students,and families where students feel connected and part of a close-knit and caring community, andin which they feel empowered to report any safety concerns.
  • Require a comprehensive, whole-school approach to effective school safety throughintegration of school climate, effective discipline, social-emotional learning, positive behavior,mental health, and academics through a multitiered system of supports (MTSS) and problemsolvingmodel.
  • Include school mental health services as an essential component of creating and sustaining safeschools. This includes social-emotional learning, mental wellness, resilience, and positiveconnections between students and adults, to create a school culture in which students feel safeand empowered to report safety concerns, which is proven to be among the most effectiveschool safety strategies.
  • Create frameworks that require school safety plans be consistently reviewed and practiced. Training, planning, and professional development should encompass ongoing prevention andearly intervention efforts as well as response and recovery plans in the event the unpreventableoccurs.
  • Maintain funding for the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments.

VI. Improve outcomes for students with disabilities.

  • Ensure Congress fulfills their promise to provide 40% of the additional costs needed to meetfederal mandates required by IDEA.
  • Ensure Congress and the Department of Education hold states and districts accountable forensuring all students are held to high standards as articulated in ESSA and IDEA.
  • Maintain the disaggregated data reporting requirement mandated within NCLB and continuedin ESSA, which ensures schools are meeting the academic, emotional, and behavioral needs ofall student subgroups. Support initiatives that seek to engage parents and community members to developmeaningful, ambitious, and comparable indicators to measure the progress of students withdisabilities.
  • Include instances of seclusion and restraint in federal discipline data collection and reports.
  • Recognizing the continuum of necessary supports for those students with the most severedisabilities to those with more frequent and everyday needs (e.g., ADHD), seek to securefederal funding should match the level of student need specifically for research-basedintervention.
  • Ensure that any legislation/regulation intended to improve student outcomes promotes theuse of evidence-based methods for the early identification of students with disabilities,including response to intervention, while discouraging and/or not allowing methods that mayproduce biases or inaccurate results (e.g., cognitive-achievement discrepancy).
  • Support increased investment in early intervention and prevention programming (e.g., MTSS,PBIS) that will reduce the number of students identified with disabilities, thus saving laterresources.

Supporting Legislation:

IDEA Full Funding Act: This legislation would provide funding that fulfills Congress' promise to provide 40% of the additionalfunds needed to meet the mandates under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

© 2017, National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814, 301-657-0270,

Please cite this document as:

National Association of School Psychologists. (2017). Federal Public Policy and Legislative Platform for the First Session of the 115th Congress(2017-2018) [Policy platform]. Bethesda, MD: Author.

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