Update: Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act
Vaillancourt, Kelly, National Association of School Psychologists. Communique
It is long overdue, but the process to overhaul No Child Left Behind (NCLB), currently being referred to as the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act (ESERA), has begun. The House of Representatives has broken up the law into smaller pieces of legislation and these bills are currently being considered. In contrast, Senator Harkin (D-Iowa) introduced a comprehensive reauthorization bill to the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). In October, the committee had the opportunity to offer and approve amendments (referred to as a mark-up). It is expected that the ESERA will be sent on to the Senate floor for debate and more amendments before the end of the year. At this point, it is difficult to tell if NCLB will be reauthorized in the next year, but the process has started in earnest. NASP is keeping a close watch on all of the introduced legislation and will continue to advocate that services that address students' academic, emotional, social, behavioral, and mental health be included in the final bill. Following the mark-up of the Senate bill, NASP submitted a formal response to both thank the HELP Committee for the inclusion of legislative language we endorse, and to further highlight areas we continue to be concerned about. In addition, we have been working with various other coalitions to continue to advocate for the coordinated and comprehensive support services we know help students achieve their best.
HASP'S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE REAUTHORIZATION OF ESEA
Safe and supportive environments for all students. Bullying and harassment have adverse effects on student learning, for both the bully and the victim. The Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2011 would require schools to keep and report data regarding the incidence of bullying and harassment in schools. Additionally, it would allow for funds to be used for professional development to help teachers and school staff recognize and respond to bullying in schools. These types of early intervention and prevention supports ensure that students have the best chance of being successful at school.
Expansion of school mental health services. Increased availability of mental health services for all students, regardless of which public school they attend, is an important contributor to school achievement. Part of our efforts involves ensuring that the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (ESSCP) is kept in the law. ESSCP provides funds for school districts to hire school psychologists, school counselors, and school social workers. Research continues to indicate that students who have access to these services show increases in academic achievement, and we believe these are necessary supports for students.
Inclusion of a definition of "school psychologist" and support of the Model for Comprehensive Integrated School Psychological Services. In NCLB, a specific and detailed definition of a school psychologist was included. It is important for the public to understand that we as school psychologists have a unique set of skills needed to support student learning and success. We are continuing to work to ensure that that definition is reinstated in the final bill.
Expanded language regarding multitiered systems of support (i.e., response to intervention and positive «*«(TM)l interventions and supports^ and umversal assign for learn. …