The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has offered a summary and reflection on the newest national education reform law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
ESSA is the education reform successor to No Child Left Behind and, earlier, Lyndon Johnson's Elementary and Secondary Education Act. As summarized by the NASP, the law establishes standards of “comprehensive” psychological support services in schools and provides for “Multi-Tiered Systems of Support” (MTSS) that actively incorporate psychologists into schools' academic improvements. Additionally, the law makes wide-reaching adjustments to the measurement of school performance.
Some "key changes" of the law include the following:
- Definitions are outlined for “school-based mental health services providers” and “specialized instructional support personnel” to include psychologists.
- States now measure “progress” toward “long-term goals” instead of using a pass-fail system for aggregate student performance.
- There is now a required focus on improving the schools and districts with the poorest performance in each state.
- School cultural factors will now be included in assessments: “ESSA requires that states include data about school climate, bullying, and harassment in their annual state report card."
- Also, “ESSA authorizes various funding streams” to help implement psychological services and mental health best-practices sharing for school staff.
In addition to summarizing the law, the NASP provides information in their “Crosswalk” guide that is “a framework for talking to stakeholders about how to move forward on implementing ESSA” as well as a “resource” for advocacy tips and best practice information in school settings. The summary article also includes a reflection on the value provided by school psychologists to assist in asserting their importance, especially given their prominent inclusion in the new ESSA.