The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), paired with the American Rescue Plan funding, presents significant opportunities to improve school and student outcomes. The table below outlines how a set of essential school practices (defined below) connects with ESSA, multitiered systems of support (MTSS), and school psychological services as described in the NASP Practice Model (www.nasponline.org/practicemodel). This document focuses on provisions outlined in ESSA, but the defined essential school practices and skills of the school psychologist are equally important in early learning environments.
Description of Essential School Practices
Effective, coordinated use of data that informs instruction, student and school outcomes, and school accountability.
Schools must have the capacity to collect, integrate, and interpret relevant data that capture the most important indicators of key outcomes. Student-level data may include screening for academic and behavioral concerns, health data, engagement, and performance on classroom assignments and standardized tests. System and school-wide data may include attendance and truancy rates, discipline reports, school climate and safety indicators, teacher engagement and self-efficacy assessments, and student and family engagement information.
Comprehensive, rigorous curricula provided to ALL students.
All students should have access to a rigorous, high-quality balanced curriculum and high expectations for achievement. Instruction, and related assessments of progress, should be culturally and linguistically responsive. Schools should also make a sustained commitment to teach and hold students accountable for critical life skills such as social–emotional competency, self-control, problem solving, and conflict resolution.
Effective coordination of services across systems and within schools.
Effective coordination requires regular opportunities for peer-to-peer consultation focused on problem solving, assessment, and intervention among teachers, principals, and other specialized instructional support personnel. Equally important is the development of mechanisms to increase family engagement and supportive relationships between students and caring adults within the school and the community.
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 reengage disconnected students.
Integration of comprehensive school mental and behavioral health services into learning supports.
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. Comprehensive mental and behavioral health services, like other comprehensive learning supports, are most effective when embedded within an MTSS framework.
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 they 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. Comprehensive school safety is supported when schools combine reasonable physical security measures (e.g., visitor check in procedures, locked doors) with efforts to enhance school climate, improve student engagement, foster respectful and trusting relationships among students and staff, and support overall student success.
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. 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 make an appropriate response when schools fail to make 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.