Ready to Learn, Empowered to Teach: Guiding Principles for Effective Schools & Successful Students

All children and youth must be ready to learn in order to achieve their best in school and to graduate prepared for college or a career. This preparation requires a public education infrastructure that empowers teachers to teach and prioritizes investments to ensure that schools effectively address the learning, behavioral, social–emotional, and mental health needs of students. When not met, those needs can create barriers to achievement. Furthermore, promoting success and reducing barriers to learning requires sustained access to a comprehensive and rigorous curriculum, high-quality instruction, and comprehensive learning supports within safe and respectful learning environments.

Comprehensive learning supports that integrate academic, social and emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs are most effective when provided through a multitiered system of supports (MTSS). Essential to this system are specialized instructional support personnel who collaborate with other educators, families, and community providers to identify needs and provide appropriate services at the individual, classroom, school, and district-wide levels.

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recommends the following guiding principles for the development of educational policies:

Guiding Principles

  1. Combine high expectations for all students with high-quality instruction across rigorous and comprehensive curricula.
  2. Create positive school climates to ensure safe and supportive learning environments for all students.
  3. Provide access to comprehensive school-based mental and behavioral health services by ensuring adequate staffing levels of school-employed mental health professionals.
  4. Increase family and community engagement to support students’ success.
  5. Create systems that support the recruitment and retention of properly trained and prepared professionals.
  6. Create accountability systems that reflect a comprehensive picture of all students’ and schools’ performance, inform instruction, and guide school improvement efforts.

Local and state governments must be empowered to construct educational systems that prepare all students for college or a career while also meeting the unique needs of their schools and districts. However, at its core, education is a civil right, and the federal government can, and should, play a critical role in shaping the national education landscape. Indeed, providing a high-quality public education system is one of America’s greatest responsibilities and wisest investments in the nation’s future. NASP believes that education policies that address the whole child and are grounded in evidence-based practices will empower teachers to teach and ensure that every child is ready and able to learn.

Ready to Learn


Download Ready to Learn, Empowered to Teach to learn more about NASP's policy recommendations necessary to maintaining a high-quality public education system.

Related Resources

Model for Comprehensive and Integrated School Psychological Services
Also known as the NASP Practice Model, this document represents NASP's official policy regarding the delivery of school psychological services.

School Psychologists: Qualified Health Professionals Providing Child & Adolescent Mental and Behavioral Health Services
NASP advocates for coordinated, comprehensive, and culturally responsive school mental health services delivered within a multitiered system to address the mental and behavioral health needs of all students.

School Psychologists: Improving Student and School Outcomes
This summary links research-based outcomes to school psychologists work with students, educators, and families to support students’ academic achievement, positive behavior, and mental wellness.