Policy Matters Blog

Updates to the NASP Federal Policy and Legislative Platform

We are happy to share NASP's updated Federal Public Policy and Legislative Platform, which will inform our work with Congress, federal agencies, and the White House. NASP's policy efforts are grounded in our professional positions, resolutions, and the organization's mission and strategic goals. This platform, which was last updated in 2020, builds on current momentum in NASP's existing policy work, reflects policy needs identified to support continued recovery from COVID-19 related instructional disruptions, and incorporates new policy positions adopted by the NASP Leadership Assembly since the last revision.

NASP remains committed to advocating for policy and practice that promote equity in access and opportunity, uphold students' civil rights, and ensure all students attend school in a safe, supportive, and affirming environment. This commitment is woven into all our policy priorities and advocacy work. The platform reflects a comprehensive, but not exhaustive, set of policies that will guide our work across the following overarching priorities:

  • Remedy shortages in school psychology;
  • Review, evaluate, and reconstruct or replace existing school structures, polices, and procedures to ensure equitable outcomes for all students;
  • Improve outcomes for students with disabilities;
  • Ensure safe, supportive, affirming, and nondiscriminatory learning environments for all students;
  • Advance evidence-based school safety and crisis response efforts;
  • Increase equitable access to comprehensive, culturally responsive school mental and behavioral health services; and
  • Ensure access to comprehensive learning supports within an MTSS system.

You are encouraged to read the full Public Policy Platform to dive deeper into what specific policies and examples of legislation NASP will focus on at the federal level. To be sure, there are myriad other policy and practice issues relevant to school psychologists that require action at the state and local levels. We encourage you to use this document to support your local advocacy efforts and to generate ideas for state-level policy changes necessary to advance our shared goals.

Remedy Shortages in School Psychology

While we had great wins to help combat personnel shortages in school psychology and other school mental health professions this year, there is still plenty of work to do to ensure every student has access to comprehensive school psychological services and every school meets NASP's recommended ratio of one school psychologist for every 500 students. We will continue advocating for policies that prepare, recruit, and retain school psychologists by:

  • Expanding access to school psychology programs through investments in existing programs and incentives to create new programs, especially programs committed to serving a diverse pool of candidates.
  • Providing loan forgiveness and grant options to assist current and future school psychologists, improve retention rates, and fund new school psychology positions to meet student needs.
  • Supporting high-quality respecialization and retraining programs (e.g., Grow Your Own) that reduce barriers to graduate education without reducing standards.

What you can do:

Ensure Equitable Outcomes for All Students

NASP believes that the federal government should continue to enact policy (and provide investments) to advance equity and support efforts that increase equitable access to resources, opportunity, and outcomes, such as:

  • Remedying structural inequity, improving opportunity and access to resources for underserved groups, and dismantling discriminatory practices.
  • Maintaining proper oversight and enforcing existing policies that protect the civil rights of all students, including their right to a public education free of discrimination.

What you can do:

  • Oppose any laws and policies at the local, state, or federal level that seek to roll back protections for students, educators, or school staff, especially those from minoritized groups.
  • Check out this webinar to get key advice and strategies to address such policies if they are introduced in your state legislature or local school board.
  • Engage in self-study on social justice to gain a better understanding of how bias, privilege, and white supremacy shape both practice and policy. This page is a great place to start.
  • Participate in the National Book Read. This year's book is Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom From Young Children at School.

Improve Outcomes for Students With Disabilities

NASP will continue to advocate for policy and practice to promote improved outcomes for students with disabilities and to support educators' ability to meet their needs. We will ask the federal government to:

  • Fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and maintain appropriate oversight to hold schools accountable for upholding the rights of students and families.
  • Provide increased investments in research on topics such as evidence-based identification of students with disabilities, including models used to identify students with a specific learning disability.
  • Invest in improved preservice training and ongoing professional development for all educators to meet the needs of students with disabilities.
  • Support increased implementation of multitiered systems of support (MTSS), using a continuum of evidence-based interventions to address student need.
  • Identify and remedy instances of disproportionality (e.g., exclusionary discipline, special education identification, bullying and harassment).

What you can do:

  • Check out NASP's resource library on special education! You can search for a particular topic, find resources for parents and educators, and find relevant resources for school psychologists.
  • Ensure your school and school district are following all relevant laws supporting the rights of students with disabilities and implementing evidence-based best practices through an MTSS. One way to do this is by Promoting Just Special Education Identification and School Discipline Practices. Also check out NASP's position statement on Identification of Students With Learning Disabilities!
  • Review new federal guidance intended to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline with students with disabilities. Work with your schools, districts, and state to make necessary changes to policy and practice.

Ensure Safe, Supportive, Affirming, and Nondiscriminatory Learning Environments for All Students

There have been an increasing number of attacks against minoritized youth and their families, as well as minoritized school staff. We know that, for children and communities to thrive, they need to feel safe, supported, and affirmed. To make this a reality, NASP will continue:

  • Opposing efforts to restrict or censor social–emotional learning practices, culturally responsive practices, and other inclusive curricula in K–12 schools, which would undermine positive school climate. This includes efforts to ostracize and discriminate against transgender and gender diverse students, as well as other students and families that identify as LGBTQ+.
  • Supporting schools in implementing positive, equitable, and effective discipline practices and efforts to prevent and appropriately address bullying, harassment, and discrimination.

What you can do: Stay up to date on the best ways to advocate for yourself and your students by checking our NASP's position statement on Racism, Prejudice, and Discrimination, as well as our resources on the Importance of Addressing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Schools and our Toolkit for Promoting Equity, Diversity, and Social–Emotional Learning. Additionally, NASP has a Framework for Effective School Discipline that outlines key practices and policy recommendations to promote equitable and effective discipline.

Advance Evidence-Based School Safety and Crisis Response Efforts

Comprehensive school safety efforts must balance physical safety with psychological safety. An overreliance on physical security measures actually makes students feel less safe and undermines the learning environment. These are the overarching policy goals that we are committed to:

  • Opposing efforts to ‘target harden' our schools, including any effort to arm educators.
  • Supporting multidisciplinary school safety and crisis teams (including behavior threat assessment and management) that include school psychologists and that are trained on evidence-based best practices to address the continuum of prevention, planning, response, and recovery.
  • Increasing investments in robust evaluation and research of federally funded school safety efforts.

What you can do: Work with your school or district to schedule a PREPaRE training to learn more about the best evidence-based school safety and crisis management plans. You can also explore NASP's other school safety and crisis resources, found here.

Increase Equitable Access to Comprehensive, Culturally Responsive School Mental and Behavioral Health Services

In order to ensure that all students' mental and behavioral health and wellness are cared for, we will continue to advocate for increased access to and supports for students and educators alike. We will work to empower school psychologists with resources and structural support as they:

  • Develop, implement, and evaluate culturally responsive and trauma-informed comprehensive school mental health services.
  • Seek out and promote effective school–community partnerships, especially ones that reduce disparities in access to mental health services among minoritized populations.
  • Support the health and wellness of educators and all school staff to prevent burnout and improve outcomes for students and staff.

What you can do: Work with your school and district leaders to ensure that they are appropriately collecting and using data gathered through mental and behavioral health services to meet students' needs and address disproportionalities in diagnosis and access to supports.

Ensure Access to Comprehensive Learning Supports Within a Multitiered System of Supports

The key to effectively providing learning supports is to do it through an MTSS that integrates academics, behavior, mental health, and social–emotional learning. The federal government should:

  • Acknowledge the role of specialized instructional support personnel in proposals that address literacy, social–emotional learning, school climate, and other factors that promote student learning.
  • Continue to update, create, and share guidance and technical assistance to support effective implementation of an MTSS framework that includes both academic and mental and behavioral health services.

What you can do: Advocate for evidence-based universal screening for social, emotional, or mental health concerns, including the use of universal supports like social–emotional learning and any necessary professional development for school staff. You can learn more about how to be a successful advocate at your school and in your community by reading NASP's Policy Playbook.

We also encourage you to help us in our advocacy efforts by participating in upcoming NASP Advocacy Days—for example, during National School Psychology Week and NASP's Public Policy Institute—and subscribing to receive action alerts so you can contact your elected officials about important issues affecting school psychology.