Policy Matters Blog

Policy Matters, NASP's policy and advocacy blog, contains up-to-date policy news from Capitol Hill and across the country, helpful policy and practice guidance, and real-world examples of how NASP, state associations, and individual school psychologists are advocating for change at the national, state, district, and school-building levels.

  • Congress Poised to Provide Increased Investments in Education, Mental Health, and School Safety

    On Tuesday, September 18th, the Senate passed legislation that provides funding for FY2019 for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. It is widely expected that the House will follow suit when they return next week. Key highlights from the spending bill are described below.

  • 5 Quick Back-to-School Advocacy Tips

    The start of a new academic year lends us energy, excitement and a fresh start for students, educators and school psychologists alike. It also presents us with an opportunity to commit ourselves to some new "resolutions" and goals. Will you make it one of yours to be an effective advocate for kids across the country this school year? NASP consistently offers opportunities for school psychologists to participate in advocacy activities. Here are five simple ways that you can stay connected and advocate today.

  • Advocacy in Action, With Feather Boas!

    School psychologists are ethically obligated to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity for the development and expression of their personal identity in a school climate that is safe, accepting, and respectful of all persons and free from discrimination, harassment, violence, and abuse. Check out a fun way that the Colorado Society of School Psychologists (CSSP) showed their support for the LGBTQ+ community!

  • Advocating for School Mental Health Services within State Policy

    Many states do not have enough mental health providers to meet the demand of student mental health concerns within schools. The reasons are plentiful, but often include a lack of awareness about the need for mental health concerns, diminished school funding to provide mental health services, or an inability to find a mental health provider to fill vacant positions.

  • PPI Virtual Hill Day 2018

    Join PPI participants who will be advocting on Capitol Hill July 18th by participating virtually!

  • Advocacy, Leadership and Legislation... "Are we there yet?"

    In reflecting on this past year, I can't help but think of the importance of our work as school psychologists with crisis management and our role in advocacy and wonder, "are we there yet?"

  • NASP Leader Addresses the Effect of Media Coverage on School Violence at Federal Safety Commission Meeting

    NASP leader and school safety expert Ben Fernandez testified before the Federal Safety Commission today regarding the impact of media coverage of school violence, particularly mass shootings. He urged the commission incorporate recommendations on best practices in their report on effective ways to prevent and keep our schools and children safe.

  • Statement of NASP President John Kelly Federal School Safety Commission Public Listening Session

    NASP President John Kelly testified before the Federal School Safety Commission regarding effective ways to create and maintain safe schools for all children. He urged the Commission to review the Framework for Safe and Successful Schools developed by NASP and other key education leadership organizations.

  • Federal Legislation to Address the Critical Shortage of School Psychologists

    This week, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida spoke on the floor of the United States Senate about the importance of school psychologists, school counselors, and school social workers in improving student mental health and creating safe schools.

  • 2018 GW/NASP Public Policy Institute: Early Bird Registration Ends 5/28

    2018 GW/NASP Public Policy Institute early bird registration is fast approaching! Reserve your space now for one of the best professional development values that NASP has to offer.

  • How #IAdvocate As a Graduate Student

    Whether you have an active student organization in your program or there's just a few of you interested in spreading the word, I challenge graduate students across the country to engage with undergraduates at your universities and institutions. Make it your mission to embed advocacy and outreach into your time as a graduate student by sharing about our field with a presentation to students, engaging in meaningful dialogue with these future educators, and becoming a bigger presence on campus or in your department.

  • NASP Hosts Congressional Briefing on School Safety

    On Wednesday, May 2, NASP, in collaboration with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, hosted a Congressional Briefing entitled "Beyond Metal Detectors: Strategies to Enhance School Climate and Safety"

  • NASP Influence on Efforts to Reduce Violence and Improve School Safety

    The nationwide response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida represents a potential turning point in how policy makers are responding to calls for efforts to improve school safety and violence.

  • Arming School Psychologists

    All of my training on systems prevention and response had not prepared me for the harsh reality of seeing the physical and psychological devistation that violence can bring to a community. I decided then and there that, though I couldn't change the landscape of this situation, I was left with only one thing I could do. Arm myself.

  • School Psychologists are Critical to School Safety and Preventing Violence

    The nationwide response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida represents a potential turning point in how policy makers are responding to calls for efforts to improve school safety and violence.

  • Advocacy in Action at the 2018 Convention

    NASP recently wrapped up another successful annual convention in Chicago, Illinois. This was NASP's best attended convention with over 6,500 school psychologists gathered to engage in professional development, networking and advocating for some of the many issues that concern school psychologists.

  • Real-time Advocacy Part 1

    This will be a two-part blog. In this first part, I will discuss the early planning and foundation-laying efforts that one state goernment and professional relations (GPR) committee is doing to enhance its advocacy efforts

  • Leadership and Advocacy Tools and Resources

    If you have a passion for the profession and are interested in getting more involved as an advocate and/or leader, NASP has generated resources to help support you in this endeavor.

  • 2017 Policy Wrap Up

    For many working in education, it has felt like our nation's public schools have been under attack. It is easy to feel defeated, but school psychologists appear more energized than ever in ensuring that all schools are equipped to meet the comprehensive needs of all students.

  • The Potential Impact of Tax Reform on School Psychology Graduate Students

    Congress is currently considering legislation that would overhaul the US Tax Code. As things are there are a number of proposals that would directly impact current and future school psychology graduate students and graduate educators.

  • Graduate Students Serving as a Bridge in the Research-to-Practice Gap

    A common experience among first year graduate students is the realization that the practices utilized in our education system are often discrepant from what is considered best practice.

  • "Handing Out" School Psychology

    The idea of school psychologists providing mental health services to all children is one that resonates with most school psychologists. However, as school psychology has in many places become closely aligned with special education, providing these services to all children can be challenging.

  • Update on State ESSA Plans

    The deadline for ESSA state plans to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education is right around the corner!

  • 2017 GW/NASP Public Policy Institute Review

    It has now been a month since the close of the succesful 2017 GW/NASP Public Policy Institute (PPI). An incredible group of school psychologists, special educators, graduate students, professors, and administrators from 24 states took part in 3-Day or 5-Day trainings to build advocacy skills and learn education policy from national experts in the field.

  • Why Should School Psychologists Care About Medicaid?

    Congress is currently considering the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would make significant changes to our nation's current healthcare system, including the Medicaid program, and may vote on the proposed legislation by the end of June. Medicaid funding is critical for the physical and mental health of students and the provision of school psychological services.

  • Transformation Implementation

    Several months ago I was going through a stack of papers and came across a certificate I have recieved for attending a workshop at a New Jersey Association of School Psychologists conference. The title of the workshop was "Expanding the Role of the School Psychologist", and the date was January, 1926. Several things occured to me as a result. One was obvious: That after all these years we continue to pursue expaning the role of school psychologists.

  • NASP Priorities in ESSA State Plans

  • Dynamic Speakers to Present at the 2017 Public Policy Institute

    As the school year comes to a close, it is time to start thinking about summer professional development! Earn CPDs and grow your advocacy skills at the 2017 GW/NASP Public Policy Institute (PPI) in Washington, D.C. This year's theme is "Equity and Access to a High Quality Public Education: National Policy Directions to Address Educational Disparities". The deadline to register for PPI with early bird pricing is May 15th and with such a hot topic we are beginning to reach capacity.

  • Tips for Open and Respectful Dialogues in the Classroom

    Transitions can be difficult for all children. For student populations who feel marginalized by the current administrations's controversal policies, many challenges have already come up in schools across the country. Teachers and school personnel are left with the tough job of handling classroom conversations and interactions around such controversial issues.

  • The Advocacy Seeds We Plant

    In the current climate of political uncertainty, we are all faced with what seems a daunting challege, but try to remember that this is new fertile ground for advocacy and that the seeds we plant now will bear fruit someday.

  • Public Service Loan Forgivness and School Psychologists

    In 2007, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) was signed into law. Since 10 years of payments and full time employment are a prerequisite for forgiveness, eligible loans can be forgiven for the first time beginning in October 2017, for those who have met the forgivness criteria and have followed all the necessary steps to have their loans forgiven.

  • Federal Policy Updates March 2017

    It has been a busy few weeks and the action shows no sign of slowing down! It is important for school psychologists to remain informed of policy conversations that impact the students we work with, and the schools we serve.

  • Why I Advocate

    Every child leaves schools and returns to their home and community. Every school exists within a broader community, and is goverened by state and federal law. To be maximally effective child advocates, school psychologists must consider these systems of influence.

  • Secretary DeVos Releases New ESSA Guidance

    The U.S. Department of Education released a new guide for states to use in developing their education plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While ESSA requires meaningful stakeholder engagement, the new guide does not compel states to include a description of how they are engaging and consulting stakeholders in devloping their plans.

  • I Am Advocacy

    What an incredible time in history to be a school psychologist, an educator, an advocate! Over the past year we have experienced a tremendous amount of change in education with President Obama signing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law in December 2015, replacing No Child Left Behind (NCLB). For the first time in national education policy, a direct link is recognized between student mental and behavioral health with overall student educational success.

  • What the Trump Administration Could Mean for Public Education

    Last night, Betsy DeVos, President-elect Trump's pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education, answered questions from members of the Senate HELP Committee during her confirmation hearing. Her answers provide some insight as to how she may handle issues related to school choice, privatization of public schools, bullying and harassment, accountability, civil rights, and meeting the needs of students with disabilities.

  • The "SECRET" of Advocacy

    Advocacy itself presents itself as a word that appears to imply some sort of prestige of advanced training to implement. To be an advocate can be a very overwhelming idea for many people. The idea that we stand up for children and for our profession can seem intimidating for some.

  • Getting to Know the GPR Committee

    GPR is a committee that is comprised of a diverse group of school psychologists who focus on advocating the public policy priorities of NASP. The GPR Committee is dedicated to promoting school psychological services and effective mental health and educational services for all children and their families through appropriate legislation, advocacty, and public policy development and implementation.

  • SPAW Thunderclap

    If you've never participated in a Thunderclap, trust me, it is far easier than you think. A good analogy is an "online flash mob". It allows you and others to share the same message at the same time, spreading an idea across social media platforms that cannot be ignored.

  • On the Couch with Dr. Barry

    For those of you reading this who are unaware, NASP has a small group of volunteers who spennd their spare time analyzing bills, reading state and federal regulations, meeting with elected officials, writing policy papers, planning workshops and generally acting as watchdogs for education, psychology, children's iddues and mental health (to name a few of our focused priorities).

  • ESSA and Other Federal Policy Updates

    It seems like all eyes are on November 8th, and the impact that the election of new policy makers may have at the federal, state, and local level. NASP is following the education priorities of the Presidential candidates and maintaining contact with the major campaigns to ensure our policy priorities are heard (more on that later). But there are lot of non-election related happenings that could result in some significant policy and practice changes in our schools. This edition of Policy Matters will provide key updates on the Presidential Candidates’ education priorities, update you on ESSA implementation efforts, and highlight three critical upcoming Supreme Court Cases that could have implications for practice in the future.

  • Presidental Election Resources

    November 8th is Election Day. Folks around the country will cast their vote for the important positions at the local, state, and national level. Every election is important, and NASP strnongly encourages members to educate themselves on the issues in order to make an informed choice when voting.

  • State Planning at ESSA Town Hall Meeting in Missouri

    I recently had an opportunity to attend a Town Hall meeting on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in my local community. Meetings were designed to obtain stakeholder feedback, demonstrating state leader interest in learning what educators and community members in Missouri cared about when designing state level ESSA plans.

  • Advocacy: Relationships that Create Change

    On Wednesday, September 14th NASP hosted a Twitter Chat facilitated by Peter Faustino (@Dr_Faustino) and Kari Oyen (@Karioyen) entitled "Advocacy: Relationships that Create Change". The chat had great participation with many sharing how they are currently advocating in their own communities.

  • Urge Congress to Preserve Funding for Title IV Part A of ESSA to Ensure Comprehensive School Mental Health Services

    September 12-16 NASP is hosting a virtual advocacy week centered around Title IV Part A funding for ESSA. We have suggested advocacy activities for each day of the week to ensure school psychologist's voices are heard!

  • Advocacy in Action around ESSA Implementation in Kentucky

    With the passage of ESSA, state school psychology associations were given an opportunity to have an impact on policies and practices which could expand the role of school psychologists to improve the academic and mental health of students in our schools.

  • Small Steps Change Lives

    As school psychologists, we are in a unique position to advocate on behalf of children and families to ensure that all children thrive and overcome barriers to learning so that they can be successful in school, at home, and throughout life.

  • Successful #NASPadvocates Twitter Campaign at the 2016 GW/NASP Public Policy Institute

    In preparation for our participants to arrive to PPI ready to learn, share, and grow their advocacy skills we rolled out a new hashtag, #NASPadvocates.

  • NASP Twitter Chat: Social Justice

    The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) invites you to join us on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. EDT for a Twitter Chat on social justice.

  • 2016 PPI Participants, Prepare to be Inspired

    To students and professionals considering the PPI experience, we encourage you to register and attend! The PPI may expose you to an entirely new way of viewing our profession and will help you build your self-efficacy as a professional.

  • What's So Great About PPI?

    School psychologists believe that all children, including those with disabilities and students stuggling with barriers to learning should have access to a great education regardless of where they live. Many of us have probably seen first hand how certain federal/ state/district/school policies and practices have impeded access to a great education for all students; in some cases, specific policies have resulted in poor outcomes for some students while supporting improved outcomes for another group of students. PPI provides you with the knowledge and skills you need to go out and effectively advocate for the needs of our students, teachers, families and communities through our daily practice and in our engagement with important decision makers.

  • School Psychologists: Advancing Policy and Practice to Support ALL Students

    The Every Student Succeeds Act contains significant opportunity and funding for states and districts to improve school and student outcomes, support safe and supportive learning environments, and improve student mental and behavioral wellness by implementing comprehensive school psychological services. Now it's time to strap on your advocacy boots once again to make sure that the policies in ESSA are translated into effective policy and practice at the state and local level.

  • Advocacy in Schools: A Graduate Student Example

    Advocating for the field of school psychology informs others of the field and helps others understand school psychologists's expertise and the manner in which they provide services at the individual, school, district, and national level.

  • Anxious About Advocating?

    As a school psychologist, it is critical you take the time to advocate at state or local events. While NASP is continually promoting the profession of school psychology, it is these grassroots efforts that can spark a fire of change.

  • Specialized Instructional Support Personnel Week 2016

    April 11-14 is National Specialized Instructional Support Personnel Awareness Week sponsored by the NASISP.

  • School Psychologists as Change Agents: Advocating for Our Own Profession

    When I hear the word advocacy, I often think about school psychologist's role as change agents. It is an essential component of what it means to be a school psychologist. School psychologists have the training and expertise to bring about positive change to the lives of our students, families, and communities.

  • I Am a Rural School Psychologist

    The role of the rural school psychologist has expanded in the last decade and as rural school psychologists, we are left trying to figure out how to provide high quality mental health services where, quite honestly, they do not exist.

  • School Psychology Graduate Students in Missouri are Outstanding Advocates

    Students in school psychology graduate programs at the University of Missouri Columbia, the University of Missouri St. Louis, and students at Webster University are making a difference for children and families through their outstanding advocacy work.

  • Using Social Media to Advance Advocacy Efforts

    Social media can be a very powerful tool for advocay, but it is sometimes underutilized. State associations as well as individual school psychologists can further their cause by having a prominent advocacy-related social media pressence.

  • NASP Urges Nation's Governors to Reject Legislation that Discriminates Against Transgender Students

    As South Dakota Gov. Daugaard decides whether or not to sign extreme legislation into law, organizations, including NASP, condemn such proposals as “shameful” and say they “foster discrimination and do harm to students, their families, and their communities".

  • The Importance of State and Local Advocacy

    While NASP's advocacy efforts often center on national issues (i.e. ESEA), the advocacy efforts of most school psychologists take place on the local level, and I am no different. And what I have learned is that advocacy is as much about effort as it is about outcomes, especially since outcomes may not be immediately apparent.

  • The Every Student Succeeds Act and School Psychologists

    It finally happened! Last week, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law, ending the era of No Child Left Behind. There were a lot of people who were convinced that this process would fall apart (I know several people being treated to a fabulous dinner thanks to those naysayers). As mentioned in a previous post, this legislation acknowledges the importance of comprehensive learning supports and positive conditions for learning and contains may policies that NASP fought long and hard for. This chart highlights NASP's specific policy recommendations and what is included in the final law.

  • NASP Urges Congress to Lift the Ban on Federal Research Related to Gun Violence

    For nearly 20 years, a ban, known as the Dickey Amendment, has banned the use of federal funds to conduct comprehensive scientific research about the effects of firearms ownership on public health and the causes of gun violence. This ban has tied the nation's hands in terms of finding a solution to this serious public health epidemic.

  • House Passes the Every Student Succeeds Act

    The House of Representatives ended 8 years of failed efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/NCLB. The House passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which represents a complete overhaul of federal education policy. The Senate is expected to vote next week, and the President is expected to sign before the end of the year. This legislation moves us away from a narrow focus on standardized tests and toward a more comprehensive approach to student success and school accountability.

  • NASP Urges Congress to Pass the Every Student Succeeds Act

  • ESEA Heads to Congressional Vote

    By a vote of 38-1, the Conference Committee voted to advance a legislative framework intended to reauthorize ESEA. Complete legislative language and final details will be released on November 30, 2015, with the House set to vote on final passage as early as December 2nd.

  • ESEA Conference to Begin Today

    Efforts to reauthorize ESEA pick up again today at 2:30, with hopes of having the House and the Senate vote on the final Conference report in early December. NASP sent this statement to the Committee, urging them to continue to move the process forward.

  • Committing to Advocacy

    Laurie Klose, a member of the NASP GPR Committee shares lessons learned from her 6-week committment to professional advocacy. We challenge you to commit to engaging in at least one advocacy activity a month!

  • Mental Health ESEA Conference Letter

    Last week an action alert was sent to NASP members urging them to write to their elected officials to support school-based mental health programs in ESEA. Specifically, NASP is advocating for: the authorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program, explicit definition of school psychologist, and investments to help schools and districts identify and support children with trauma history and those at risk for mental illness.

  • Public Opinion, Research, and ESEA

    With Congress set to begin final reauthorization of ESEA after Labor Day, Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup have released their 47th annual poll on public attitudes towards public schools. The results show that student engagement, school climate, and adequate funding are viewed as very important, while standardized test scores are seen as the least important factor in school improvement. These views align closely with the policies NASP advocates for in ESEA.

  • Successful 2015 GW/NASP Public Policy Institute

    About a month ago, NASP wrapped up its annual GW/NASP Public Policy Institute (PPI) in partnership with George Washington University. This is my first year working at NASP and helping plan for the institute, as well as my first time attending PPI! We had almost 100 school psychologists, graduate students, administrators, and others interested in education policy from 25 states turn out this year.

  • ESEA Heads to Conference

    After months (well, years actually) of advocacy, hearings, mark-ups, briefings, and Hill visits the House and the Senate have both finally passed a bill intended to re-authorize ESEA. However, our work is just beginning as the bill now heads to conference, with a much smaller window of time to get things done.

  • Senate Passes ESEA Reauthorization Legislation

    The Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of the Every Child Achieves Act, intended to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind). There is still much work to do before President Obama can sign this into law and we can roll back some ineffective policies and practices, but this legislation is a step in the right direction. Below is a summary of some of the major components of ECAA; we'll continue to keep you posted as things progress.

  • One Step Closer to ESEA Reauthorization

    There has been a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill in the last 24 hours! Despite abruptly pulling it from the floor in February, the House passed the Student Success Act on Wednesday evening. The Senate has begun formal consideration of the Every Child Achieves Act and is expected to vote early next week. We still have time to influence the Every Child Achieves Act , so we'll cover that first. For a quck refresher, see this update from April. As a reminder, we were successful in re-instating authorization for the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (yay!), during the mark-up.

  • ESEA Matters to Your Practice

    Policy changes enacted in the last 15 years have dramatically shaped the context in which school psychologists practice. Perhaps some of the most significant changes arose from the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2002; the 2004 reauthorization to the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act; significant financial investment for states awarded Race to the Top grants; the introduction of the Common Core State Standards; and the ESEA state waivers which released states from the punitive consequences mandated by NCLB in exchange for implementation of specific reform efforts (primarily teacher evaluation systems based on student performance). To be sure, it is not just policy that impacts our practice. As school psychologists, we strive to make sure all services we provide are guided by research, and we seek to discontinue policies and practices deemed harmful or ineffective and promote those that further improve school and student outcomes. There is no doubt the next reauthorization of ESEA will, for better or for worse, impact the role of the school psychologist and the systems in which we practice.

  • The President's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request

    The Obama Administration released the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Requests. Among the requests is a 2% increase in funding for the Department of Education, but NASP has some concerns. Find out what those concerns are and NASP's plan to help.

  • Busy Start to 2015

    Get up to speed and get involved in the flurry of education policy, funding, and school safety activities that have taken center stage on Capitol Hill.

  • The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (ACA)

    Find out why school psychologists need to be active advocates of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, what NASP is doing to help, and how you can get involved.

Advocacy Action Center

Make your voice heard on Capitol Hill! In just a few minutes you can encourage your elected officials to support public policy issues that are of importance to school psychologists and NASP.