New Mexico Association of
School Psychologists

From: Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, NASP Director, Government Relations; Katie Eklund, Chair, NASP
Government and Professional Relations (GPR) Committee

Re: Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act and Opportunities for School Psychologists

Last week, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, legislation that reauthorizes–and in effect replaces—ESEA/NCLB, into law (see NASP’s statement). This would not have happened without your tremendous advocacy work. The voices of our members and our state associations played a critical role in maintaining language related to the importance of school climate, comprehensive learning supports, and school based mental health services, among other things.  This law goes into effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.  The U.S. Department of Education will be releasing specific guidance to states in the coming weeks to begin planning for policy and practice changes.  We will share all relevant information as we receive it.


The Big Picture

There are a number of significant structural changes in ESSA, the most significant of which returns to states and local jursidictions substantial control for designing program and accountability systems and determining use of funds. Your continued leadership within your states will be absolutely critical to whether or not these decisions reflect best practice and appropriately incorporate school psychologists.


NASP Plans

On January 20, 2016, the GPR committee will host a webinar regarding ESSA.  Stay tuned for an invitation to register for this event.


NASP is also developing a variety of materials related to the implementation of ESSA; we expect these to be finalized before the Annual Convention in February.  Over the next 18 months, NASP will offer several opportunities for information sharing and discussion related to the regulation and implementation of ESSA, including an opportunity for discussion about ESSA implementation during the 2016 Regional Meetings.  In the meantime, this memo contains relevant ESSA information.  We encourage you and your state association to connect with state policy makers who will be in involved with ESSA implementation decisions.


Relevant Definitions

ESSA contains two definitions that specifically mention school psychologists:


school-based mental health services provider’:  “includes a State-licensed or State-certified school counselor, school psychologist, school social worker, or other State licensed or certified mental health professional qualified under State law to provide mental health services to children and adolescents”


This definition is not new. However, given the increased focus on the importance of comprehensive school mental health services, it will be important to advocate for the role of school psychologists as mental and behavioral health providers.


specialized instructional support personnel’  means ‘‘(i)school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists; and ‘‘(ii) other qualified professional personnel, such as school nurses, speech language pathologists, and school librarians, involved in providing assessment, diagnosis, counseling, educational, therapeutic, and other necessary services (including related services as that term is defined in section 602 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1401)) as part of a comprehensive program to meet student needs.

For more information about this definition, services, and professionals visit  


Likely action needed: Familiarity with this term varies across states and districts.  It may be necessary to educate policy makers and other stakeholders , including perhaps your members, about the definition and role of SISP, and the unique qualifications of school psychologists in providing comprehensive services.


Opportunities for School Psychology and School Psychologists


ESSA explicitly allows states and districts to use various funding streams, including Title I funds, to implement multi-tiered systems of support, positive behavior interventions and supports, and early intervening services.  These evidence based models should be the foundation of school improvement efforts and would improve the impact of the policies listed below.  ESSA also presents an excellent opportunity to advance the role of the school psychologist and increase implementation of the NASP Practice Model. To help states articulate how school psychologists and the Practice Model can facilitate effective implementation of ESSA, when appropriate, specific domains of practice are noted.


The specific advocacy needs of your state will vary.  Some states may already be engaging in requirements set forth by this new legislation, while other states may need to make significant legislative or policy changes to comply with this law and/or access specific funding streams.  Although each of the provisions outlined below may not pertain to your state, they represent the most significant opportunities to advance implementation of the NASP Practice Model, improve access to comprehensive school psychological services, and improve services for all students.  It is important to note that ESSA provides states and districts great flexibility in the development and implementation of various education reform initiatives.  Unless explicitly noted, the policies listed below do not represent mandated activities.  Rather, they are authorized activities that states and districts may choose to implement using federal funds.


Assessment and Accountability for All Students

  • ·         ESSA eliminates Annual Yearly Performance (AYP), 100% proficiency requirements and replaces with a comprehensive model that seeks to help and support, rather than punish struggling schools.
  • ·         States and Local Education Agencies (LEA’s) must engage in meaningful consultation with appropriate specialized instructional support personnel, and other stakeholders, when designing state and local Title I plans to improve student outcomes and school success.
  • ·         States must develop an accountability system that*:
  • o   Includes performance goals for subgroups of students,
  • o   Annually measures student performance based on
  • §  Performance on state assessments, and
  • §  At least one other valid and reliable academic indicator that can include student growth
  • o   Include at least one indicator of school quality or student success that allows for meaningful differentiation, such as student or educator engagement, or school climate and safety
  • o   Academic indicators, which must have more weight in the overall accountability plan than school quality indicators
  • *These are required components of a state accountability system.  States and districts can determine specific indicators and the method for data collection.
  • ·         Schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement must :
  • o   Conduct a needs assessment and implement evidence based comprehensive learning supports based of the results
  • o   Identify and plan to address resource inequity, which could include staffing ratios
  • ·         In schools operating a targeted assistance program, plans must outline how specialized instructional support personnel will be involved in helping identify and intervene with students most at risk of school failure.**
  • ·         Schools may use Title I funds to implement comprehensive school mental health services as a school improvement strategy.
  • ** States could choose from one of any of the professionals considered to be specialized instructional support personnel.  School psychologists have expertise in the use of valid and reliable data in decision making, effective assessments, and intervention implementation.  We have the opportunity to help guide state and district school improvement plans that are student centered and rooted in data and we must advocate for our inclusion in the development Title I and other school improvement plans.

Improving School Climate, School Safety, and Access to High Quality Comprehensive Learning Supports

  • ·         States must articulate how they will assist LEA efforts to bullying, harassment, and discipline.
  • ·         States must annually report school climate, bullying, and harassment data that, at a minimum, is contained in the Civil Rights Data Collection
  • ·         Districts must use at least 20% of Title IV Part A funds for at least one activity to improve student mental and behavioral health, school climate, or school safety***
  • ·         Federal funds may be used to implement trauma informed practices, and mental health first aid
  • ·         Various funding streams can be used to implement positive behavior interventions and supports or other activities to address skills such as social emotional learning, conflict resolution, effective problem solving, and appropriate relationship building.
  • ·         Any district receiving a full service community schools grant must specify how specialized instructional support personnel will be involved in the partnership and service delivery model.
  • ·         Districts may use federal funds to offer ongoing and job embedded professional development activities  for all relevant school staff that facilitates:
  • o   Alignment of activities to specific school improvement efforts
  • o   Collaborative data collection and decision making
  • o   Increased educator capacity within multi-tiered systems of support
  • o   Effective classroom discipline and behavior management
  • o   High quality instruction, supports and interventions for diverse learners, including students with disabilities
  • o   Knowledge of culturally competent practices
  • ***This formula grant is awarded to states and districts based on the funding formula used to allocate Title I funds.  This grant is authorized at $1.6 Billion, representing the second largest authorization, behind Title I, contained in ESSA.



Thank you for your advocacy and for your dedication to NASP.  If you have specific questions, please contact Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach ( or Katie Eklund (

The New Mexico Association of School Psychologists (NMASP) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

4004 Carlisle Blvd NE Suite F, Albuquerque, NM 87107

Phone: 505-328-3109 

Fax: 505-869-1640


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