Busy Start to 2015

Policy Matters, NASP's policy and advocacy blog contains up-to-date policy news from Capitol Hill and across the country.

We are just a month into the new year, and there has been a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill! Issues including K-12 education policy, school safety, education funding, and the quality of teacher preparation programs have taken center stage recently. NASP has been actively advocating on behalf of school psychologists, and your help will be needed in the coming weeks and months to help ensure that all students have access to school psychologists and the comprehensive school psychological services you provide to teachers, parents, and families. Here is just a snapshot of what we’ve been working on, stay tuned for more information and specific ways you can get involved.

The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Efforts to reauthorize ESEA/NCLB are very much underway. Senator Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, released a discussion draft (pdf) and held a series of hearings and invited public comment on the proposals outlined in this bill. NASP remains steadfast in our commitment to ensure that policies and practices contained in a reauthorized ESEA are supported by empirical research and support the academic, behavioral, social-emotional, and mental health needs of all students. NASP offered comprehensive specific policy recommendations (pdf) and will continue to advocate for:

  • Rigorous academic standards and high expectations for all students
  • Annual state assessments and report of disaggregated data to allow for comparison among subgroups
  • Inclusion of nonacademic indicators (e.g school climate, social-emotional factors) in school report cards
  • Accountability systems that :
    • include multiple measures of student performance (including nonacademic indicators)
    • utilize meaningful data to inform efforts to improve student outcomes rather than punish teachers and schools
    • expand, not narrow, curriculum
  • Policies that support implementation of multitiered systems of support
  • Explicit definition of “school psychologist”
  • Dedicated funding streams to help schools and districts address student physical and mental health and well-being, student mental health, improve school safety, and prevent violence.

Proposed Regulations on Teacher Preparation Programs

The Department of Education proposed a comprehensive set of regulations that would create a rating system for teacher preparation programs. The Department believes this would improve the quality of teacher preparation programs, the effectiveness of our teachers, and ultimately student achievement. NASP has significant concerns (pdf) with the proposal including:

  • Lack of efficacy of proposed rating system
  • Potential negative impact on special education students and high-needs communities
  • Potential exacerbation of the shortage of special education teachers
  • Lack of state capacity and resources that could be better spent on direct service to students

Just today, the House of Representatives released their version of ESEA. A roundtable discussion is scheduled for Thursday. Stay tuned for further information about this bill, and NASP’s response.
There is a lot of work to be done! If you are attending the 2015 NASP Convention in Orlando, stop by the advocacy booth in NASP Connect to get more information and learn how you can get involved!

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