The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) presents significant opportunities to improve school and student outcomes by implementing comprehensive school psychological services within multitiered systems of support (MTSS). MTSS offers an evidence-based framework for effectively coordinating and integrating services throughout the school system to ensure that all students succeed. Maximizing and sustaining these efforts requires schools and districts to promote and implement a set of essential school practices (defined below). School psychologists have specific expertise, knowledge, and skills to help schools employ these essential school practices and leverage ESSA policy opportunities.
The crosswalk outlines how ESSA connects with MTSS, essential school practices, and the broad role of school psychologists working within the scope of services described in the NASP Practice Model.
Description of Essential School Practices
Effective, coordinated use of data that informs instruction, student and school outcomes, and school accountability. Schools collect a multitude of data about student and school performance. Schools must have the capacity to collect, integrate, and interpret data that are relevant and capture the most important indicators of key outcomes. They also must be able to look at data in a coordinated fashion to identify connections that should influence decision-making related to instruction, programming, and learning supports and services.
Comprehensive, rigorous curricula provided to ALL students. All students, including high-performing students , English language learners, students receiving special education services, those struggling with barriers to learning, and those with disciplinary problems, should have access to a rigorous, high-quality balanced curriculum and high expectations for achievement. Students should receive instruction in subjects including reading, math, science, social studies, foreign language, physical education, and the creative arts and critical life skills such as social-emotional competency, self control, problem solving, and conflict resolution.
Effective coordination of services across systems and within schools. MTSS include a cohesive data collection process that demonstrates student progress through the curriculum and toward goals regardless of whether they are receiving special or general education instruction.
Provision of evidence-based comprehensive learning supports. Learning supports are the resources, strategies, and practices that provide the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual supports that directly address barriers to learning and teaching, and that re-engage disconnected students. Learning supports within MTSS provide a framework to promote success and wellness and prevent problems, coupled with a continuum of evidence-based interventions of increasing intensity for students in need of additional support.
Integration of comprehensive school mental and behavioral health services into learning supports. Mental and behavioral health services are essential components of comprehensive learning supports, as students' mental and behavioral health underlies every aspect of learning. Access to school-based mental health services is linked to improved students' physical and psychological safety and reduces costly negative outcomes such as risky behaviors, disciplinary incidents, delinquency, dropout, substance abuse, and involvement with the criminal justice system.
Integration of school climate and safety efforts into school improvement efforts. Feeling safe and supported are necessary conditions for students to learn and achieve. Schools enable teachers' ability to teach and students' ability to learn when we ensure that all students: (a) come to school feeling safe, welcomed, and respected; (b) have a trusting relationship with at least one adult in the school; (c) understand clear academic and behavioral expectations; and (d) see their role as positive members of the school community.
Provision of high- quality, relevant professional development. All school staff must have access to continuous, job embedded professional development that improves their capacity to address the unique needs of the school community and its students. Professional development should include classroom-based strategies for ongoing progress monitoring; practices for improved recognition of mental and behavioral risk; and teaching practices that promote positive and specific academic, social-emotional, and behavioral strategies for struggling students. Professional development should be targeted to the specific needs of professionals within the school rather than one-size-fits-all training for staff at large.
Maintaining a comprehensive accountability system. School accountability systems must use multiple indicators of student outcomes including academic achievement, behavioral health indicators, progress toward life goals, perceptions of the school environment, college and/or career readiness skills, indicators of educator effectiveness, and factors that contribute to positive learning environments, including school connectedness and safety. Effective accountability systems help identify and offer the appropriate supports needed for schools struggling to meet student needs and allow a reasonable time to improve and appropriate response when schools fail to progress.
Plugging Into the ESSA, MTSS, and the NASP Practice Model Crosswalk: A Planning Worksheet for State and Local Associations (.DOC)
Use this worksheet together with the begin to identify opportunities, resources, needed capacities, and next steps to shaping the role of school psychologists within ESSA implementation efforts in their state.