Category: Legislative Updates
To view the word document of the legislative update click here.
Dear MSPA Members,
The following is aLetter to the Editor written by retired MSPA lobbyistRalph Maves and published by the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Sunday, April 28. Ralph continuesto be actively engaged in advocating for the students we serve. His letter advocates in favor of eliminating high-stakes graduation testing in Minnesota and is in support of provisionsin the current House and Senate versions of Omnibus Education Bill, specifically Educational Expectations and Graduation Requirements for Minnesota’s students.
Thank you, Ralph, for your letter to the editor copied below.
Drop High-Stakes GRAD Tests
Last year, a working group on assessment and accountability was formed by the Minnesota commissioner of education. One of the recommendations of that group was to eliminate passage of high-stakes tests for graduation. The vote was 26 to 2. This action would be such a positive measure for our Minnesota students.
There are currently 24 states that require passage of high-stakes tests to graduate; 26 do not. Those that do not include Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas. There is no research that indicates that students from those states that do have such a requirement do better after high school in college and/or careers than those that do not. Massachusetts and Texas, which do have high-stakes testing, did studies to see if they reduced remedial courses in college. They did not.
We tell students not to drop out of school, for they will limit their futures and that of society. Some listen; many do not. Then, there is another group of students who find school more of a struggle than many of their classmates because of reading difficulties or a variety of other problems. However, they are highly motivated and directed and successfully reach the end of their senior year, only to be denied a diploma because they cannot pass a test that itself is suspect. How short-sighted.
As Martha Foote, director of research for the New York Performance Standards Consortium, so aptly stated: “A single test can prevent a student from receiving a high-school diploma and building a viable future, yet the test itself may be a meaningless measure of present achievement or future performance.”
Ralph D. Maves,
The writer is a school psychologist.
Currently, House and Senate staff areengaged in the process of doing side by sidesto highlight similarities and differences in the two bills. (The bill numbers are HF 630 and SF 453).
Staff involved include:
In the House: Representatives Marquart, Mariani, Brynaert, Morgan, and Urdahl. (Urdahl is the only Republican)
In the Senate: Senators Wiger, Stumpf, Johnson (A),Torres Ray and Dahle. (There are no Republicans since none voted for the Senate education bill).
The first conference committee meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 10, at 8 am in Room 10 of the State Office Building.
We encourage you to be in contact with your legislators regarding the elimination of the GRAD tests and any other items in the bills you feel strongly about. Make your voice heard!
Links provided below:
SF 453 120B.02 EDUCATIONAL EXPECTATIONS AND GRADUATION
44.10 REQUIREMENTS FOR MINNESOTA’S STUDENTS.
HF 630 120B.023 BENCHMARKS.
32.6 Subdivision 1. Benchmarks implement, supplement statewide academic
Marilyn Leifgren, Legislative Co-Chair
Sally Baas, Legislative Co-Chair and NASP President-Elect
Dan Hyson, NASP Delegate
Ralph Maves, retired MSPA Lobbyist
Minnesota School Psychologist Association
Minnesota School Psychologists Improve Student and School Outcomes
Minnesota School Psychologists believe and work to ensure that every student is ready to learn and every teacher is empowered to teach. School psychologists work with students, educators, and families to support the academic achievement, positive behavior, and mental wellness of all students, especially those who struggle with barriers to learning. School psychologists help schools and families address some of our biggest challenges in education: improving and individualizing instruction to close the achievement gap; increasing graduation rates and preventing dropouts; creating safe, positives school climates and preventing violence; providing meaningful accountability; and strengthening family–school partnerships.
WHO ARE WE?
- School Psychologists are highly trained in both education and psychology completing a minimum of a specialist-level degree program. Our training emphasizes:
- Mental health and educational interventions
- Learning behaviors
- Curriculum and instruction
- Consultation and collaboration
- School law and systems
- School Psychologists Work with Students to:
- Promote wellness and resilience by reinforcing social skills and problem solving
- Providing counseling, instruction, and mentoring for those struggling with social, emotional, and behavioral problems
- Increase achievement by assessing barriers to learning and determining the best instructional strategies to improve learning
- Enhance understanding and acceptance of diverse cultures and backgrounds
- School Psychologists Work with Teachers and Families to:
- Advocate for the needs of individual students both in and out of the school setting
- Evaluate eligibility for special education services (within a multidisciplinary team)
- Enhance home-school collaboration to create safe, supportive learning environments
- Develop and maintain collaborative relationships with community resources
MSPA LEGISLATIVE FOCUS FOR 2013
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)
The recent Supreme Court decision upholding the fundamental constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) impacts Minnesota’s consideration of how health and mental health services are delivered in schools. The ACA supports the following provisions:
- expands the Medicaid program by increasing the number of children and their families who are eligible for services and expanding the availability of preventative services
- renews the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2019 that provides free or low-cost health insurance to low income families that are not eligible for Medicaid.
- Certified or licensed school psychologists are identified by title as “qualified health professionals” of child and adolescent mental and behavioral health services. (See Title V, Section 5203 identified below)
MSPA ADVOCATES FOR SCHOOL-BASED MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES:
1. Recognizing school psychologists as qualified eligible providers of Medicaid services is good for children and youth.
- Providing mental health services in schools improves accessibility for many children and youth, particularly in high needs and hard to serve areas such as rural and urban communities. Seven out of ten students receiving mental health services, receive these services at school.
- Mental health services provided by school-employed Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP) professionals (school psychologists, school social workers, school nurses, and school counselors) support learning and achievement, which contribute significantly to positive outcomes for students and schools.
- The expansion of Medicaid services under the ACA potentially increases available funding for school prevention and intervention services. Recognizing qualified school-employed professionals as eligible providers will likely increase the availability of professionals specifically trained to provide those services within school systems.
2. Utilizing qualified school mental health providers currently employed by schools (such as school psychologists) to provide behavioral and mental health services increases the accessibility and cost-effectiveness of services.
- School psychologists are ready and available to provide these services in schools and already do so routinely in the majority of states.
- Current Medicaid law suggests that state Medicaid plans must be designed to ensure that care and services are available to as much of the eligible population as possible. The greatest access to these services is achieved through first utilizing existing school-employed mental health providers already on site, well-trained for the delivery of mental health services in schools, and already regularly providing preventative care, assessment, and counseling services
- School psychologists and other school-employed mental health providers are trained to help coordinate services between school-employed and community-employed mental health providers. All of these professionals are needed to provide comprehensive quality care to children and families. Thoughtful and purposeful coordination of these services reduces duplication of and eliminate gaps in services and helps contain costs.
3. School psychologists are uniquely qualified to provide behavioral and mental health services in schools.
- Services provided for kids in schools should be relevant to the learning environment and promote positive student outcomes.
- School psychologists have specialized knowledge and training in both psychology and education. This training includes knowledge about child development, mental health, learning, consultation, assessment, curriculum & instruction, and school systems and laws.
- School psychologists have extensive knowledge in education (ESEA/NCLB, IDEA) and relevant civil rights (Section 504) laws. They understand reporting requirements, consent, and privacy and disclosure laws and how their application in schools differs from applications in private or community practice.
4. The credentialing requirements for school psychologists are rigorous and comparable to other eligible providers.
- For the purposes of ensuring that students are receiving qualified services, certification and licensure provide similar safeguards. Each requires specific pre-service graduate training and supervision, and post graduate supervision and professional development.
- The ACA recognizes qualified professionals that have appropriate certifications as well as those that have appropriate licenses
- School psychologists have rigorous graduate training and supervision. A minimum of 60 graduate semester hours of school psychology training and a 1200 hour supervised internship are required to be eligible for the National Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential. The NCSP is explicitly recognized by 31 states as a route to the school-based credential for school psychologists.
- School psychologists holding the NCSP should be considered qualified providers. The precedent for a national credential being accepted currently exists in the federal regulations as speech and language therapists holding the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) “Certificate of Clinical Competence” are considered eligible qualified Medicaid providers.
- Requiring Department of Regulatory agency licensure as a criterion for eligible providers for Medicaid reimbursable services risks limiting a school’s ability to utilize existing personnel. This limitation in unnecessary given the comparability of qualifications and can potentially reduce access to needed school-based services by those specifically trained to do so.
MSPA Partners with Minnesota School Social Workers Association on the following state legislative initiative:
* Safe Schools Act for All: SF494/HF765 is a bill authored by Senator Scott Dibble and Representative Jim Davnie relating to education; requiring school boards to adopt a written policy by a certain date to prohibit harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence including electronic forms and forms requiring Internet use. This is an amendment to Minnesota Statutes 2010, sections 121A.03; 1.4124D.10, subdivision 8; repealing Minnesota Statutes 2010, section 121A.0695. This legislation is an important part of efforts to strengthen school anti-harassment programs, by specifically calling attention to student characteristics that have been previously under- or unaddressed. The act requires schools to adopt anti-harassment policies and staff training that conform with the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which specifically protects sexual orientation and gender identity along with other characteristics like national-origin, sex, race, and religion. This bill passed both the House and Senate but was vetoed by Governor Pawlenty. This Bill was reintroduced during the 2011 legislative session and was referred to the Education Committee.
MN School Psychologist Association
MN School Social Workers’ Association
The 10th Annual Day at the Hill
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
161 St Anthony Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55103
MSPA is joining forces with MSSWA for the 3rd consecutive year for the annual Day at the Hill. School social workers and school psychologists come together to educate state lawmakers about how SSWs and School Psychologists work collaboratively to address student barriers to academic success in cost effective ways. CEU’s are provided.
Highlights of the Day
8:00 – 8:30 Registration and coffee
8:30 – 9:00 Welcome and Overview of the Day
9:00 – 10:00 Keynote Panel: Members of the Governor’s Task Force on Bullying Prevention will speak on framework and recommendations as well as next steps. Panelists: Lyn Mitchell from AMAZE, Phillip Duran of Outfront MN, and Dr. Tom Scott from the U of MN Ped/Adol. Residency Program
10:00 – 10:30 Talking Points for your meetings with your Legislators
10:30 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 11:30 Micro Level Multi-Disciplinary Approach to addressing Bullying Prevention
11:30 – 12:00 Rep. Jim Davnie will provide helpful tips on how to talk with legislators and an update on current legislation.
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch
12:30 – 3:00 Capitol Hill group visits with Legislators
Contact Anne McInerney at 612-250-6862 with questions or for additional information
Please submit the following registration:
Minnesota School Psychologist Association
Home Address: ________________________________________
State: ___________ Zip: ________________________________
Day Phone: ___________________________________________
Would you like to request a Vegetarian meal? (Circle one) yes no
***Indicate that you are a member of MSPA and your registration fee will be paid***
Send registration form to:
Anne McInerney, MSSWA
1881 Twin Circle Drive
Mendota Heights, MN 55118
Thank you very much
Save the Date….Tuesday, February 26th
The Minnesota School Psychologists Association
The Minnesota School Social Workers Association
2013 Joint Day on the Hill
Featuring Morning Speakers at Education Minnesota (near the Capitol in St. Paul)
- Members from the Governor’s Task Force on Bullying Prevention will talk about the framework and recommendations submitted to the Governor, next steps regarding legislation and the role of the Safe Schools Coalition. Speakers are Julie Hartog from Pacer National Bullying Prevention Center; Thomas Scott, MD, Development/Behavioral Pediatrician; and Nicki Mabry, Outfront MN
- Representative Jim Davnie, MSSWA Legislator of the Year and past MSPA Legislative Award recipient, will be honored and will provide helpful advice in how to talk with your legislators, as well as an update on legislation
Join us in this collaborative, informative, and productive Day on the Hill.
More information to follow
MSPA Legislative Committee Members Sally Baas, Dan Hyson, & Marilyn Leifgren
1. Deadlines for introducing new bills this session
As of last week, just under 300 E-12 bills have been introduced this session. A small percentage will become law at this time. By Friday, March 16th, all bills having a chance to become law this session will need to have been heard by at least one committee in the House or Senate. By the following Friday, March 23rd, all bills to remain viable this session will need to have been heard by at least one committee in both the House and the Senate. There are exceptions here for money bills.
2. Teacher evaluation
During last year’s special session, legislation was passed directing the MN Department of Education to put together a working group to come up with a teacher evaluation process by the start of the 2014-15 school year. There are 43 members, including four legislators who are ex-officio members. There are also four MDE staff among the 43. Others are teachers, principals, superintendents, a program consultant, an executive director of research, evaluation and assessment, Education Minnesota local presidents/teachers, a representative of the MN Business Partnership, an assessment and evaluation coordinator, a field staff person from EDMN, the Chair of the Special Education Labor Management Committee (Minneapolis Federation of Teachers), representatives from the MN School Boards Association, a person who occupies the Campbell Chair for Innovation in Teacher Development at the U of MN, a Chamber of Commerce representative, and a trustee from MnSCU. There do not appear to be any school psychologists (or other related services personnel for that matter) on the working group at this time. Since most school psychologists fall under a teacher’s contract, however, what this group comes up with would also apply to those school psychologists. You are encouraged to look into this further and ensure that the voices of school psychologists are heard as teacher evaluation procedures are discussed. The MSPA Board and MSPA’s lobbyist are also working to explore the role our association and school psychologists and other related services personnel across the state could play as well.
3. Teacher tenure
Finally, you may want to take a close look at HF 1870/SF 1690. These are the bills proposing to change teacher tenure. They are promoted as a way to rid the schools of ineffective teachers. However, the way the bills read there will be a continuum of effectiveness, from least to most effective, as determined by school administrators. Thus, you could be an effective teacher, but if another individual in your license area were deemed more effective, you would be released from your duties no matter how long you or the other individual had been working in a certain license area. And again, it appears that many if not most school psychologists in Minnesota would be seen as teachers with respect to this legislation.
Ralph D. Maves, MSPA Lobbyist
A conference committee has now been formed regarding the tenure legislation. The committee is working from HF 1870. Committee members are Representatives Marani (D), Erickson (R), Downey (R), Woodard (R) and Petersen (R) and Senators Olson (R), Daley (R), Kruse (R), Wolf (R) and Bonoff (D). Petersen and Wolf are the co-chairs.
There have been three meetings to date. The first featured a representative of an organization called the National Council on Teacher Quality. She talked about what research has to say with regard to the issues of tenure and teacher effectiveness. I would characterize the meeting as routine and laid back.
The second meeting featured two individuals who presented separately. The first was an Education Minnesota lobbyist. My observation was that this part of the meeting was contentious. The second presenter was a former union head from the Washington, D.C., Schools who stated he had gone from a strong backer of tenure to one who placed teacher effectiveness first. He was on leave now from the D.C. Schools and was speaking around the country against tenure (last in, first out). He is seemingly employed by Students First, an organization headed by Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the D.C. Schools.
The third meeting was a meeting between the Minnesota Commissioner of Education and the conference committee. I would characterize this meeting as contentious as well.
Ordinarily the process would be for the committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate bills, pass the bill on the House and Senate floors and then send it to the Governor for approval or a veto. However, there is talk about an early adjournment. With the meeting this A.M. and the differences in viewpooint between the Commissioner and the conference committee majority, I do not know where things will go from here.
Ralph D. Maves, MSPA Lobbyist
Dear Fellow School Psychologists:
As you probably have heard, Governor Dayton has indicated he will not sign the legislation regarding layoffs (tenure versus evaluation) as drafted by the Republican majority. He, as his Commissioner of Education earlier stated, noted the legislation as drafted is premature since the teacher evaluation process is still being developed. The Republicans on the conference committee developing HF 1870, the bill under discussion, have indicated they will send a bill to Governor Dayton even though he has said he will not sign it. At the beginning of this week, the conference committee on this bill met and ironed out the differences between the House and Senate bills. The reworked bill will now go to the House and Senate floors for a vote and then on to Governor Dayton.
You probably have also been reading about the problem with the basic skills test for teachers which has developed. In the past teachers could fail the test and still teach for up to three years. This year legislation was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Dayton which said that teachers could not enter the classroom until they passed the test. This has led to a situation where a significant number of classrooms will not have a teacher present. This is particularly true in immersion schools. Apparently the test was reworked a couple of years back and made significantly more difficult. Some examples of test questions were given in the Star Tribune’s April 1 very detailed article. The legislature is now seemingly going to give the situation a second look.
Some legislation this year has been recycled from the past. One example is the legislation coming out of Florida which would rate schools A through F. Teachers in the better performing schools would be eligible for extra remuneration. This is HF 638 (Myhra) and SF 1302 (Thompson).
There is also a voucher bill. Parents of children in low performing schools whose income is below a certain level would be eligible for vouchers which could be used in non-public schools. Interestingly, the psychologist who testified with regard to the benefits of this bill is, I believe, the same psychologist who testified last session regarding the positive benefits of retention. On the voucher bill his testimony was challenged by the lobbyist for the Association of Metropolitan School Districts. These voucher bills are SF 388 (Nienow) and HF 273 (Woodard). An excellent article on these bills is to be found in the March 4th edition of the Sunday Pioneer Press.
More bills of possible interest to you will follow shortly.
Ralph D. Maves, MSPA Lobbyist
If you have some ideas or feelings regarding the tenure bill, now would be a good time to pass them along to the Governor. He has stated he will not sign the bill this session. However, he is receiving a lot of pressure to sign it. Some Republicans have suggested it may be used as a bargaining chip in session ending negotiations. Some other bills being discussed at the legislature which may be of interest to you are as follows:
House File 2568. Doepke. Independent Learning Schools. The puporse is to expand and improve student achievement through adapting learning to the needs and aptitudes of individual students. An individualized learning school may be a charter school, a site-governed school, an area learning center or contract alternative school. Application requirements are spelled out, and waivers available are listed. There is a Senate companion bill and bipartisan support in each chamber.
House File 2790. Bills. Education Boards. An education board has the powers of a school board. The education board provides for a system of public schooling through the supervision of performance contracts with school sites organized as site-governed schools, area learning centers, contract alternative schools or chartered schools. A school board may become an education board by adopting a resolution to convert and then converting all the school sites in that district to site- governed schools or a combination of site-governed schools, area learning centers, contract alternative schools or chartered schools. How the conversion may be brought about is spelled out. So too is the purpose of education boards and their duties. The bill has a Senate companion and is bipartisan.
Senate File 1073. Nelson. This legislation strongly encourages school districts to assist all students by no later than grade 9 to explore their college and career interests and aspirations and develop a plan for a smooth and successful transition to postsecondary education or employment. What the students’ plans must be designed to do is spelled out in great detail. Involuntary career tracking is prohibited. Ideas for funding are suggested. Again there is a House companion and bipartisan support.
House File 2580. Loon. This legislation would apply to public schools, including charter schools. The schools would be among the state’s persistently lowest performing schools. If 51 percent or more of the parents of students attending such a school, including feeder schools, sign a petition requesting the school board implement one of four intervention models (or other alternative governance arrangement), then the school board must so act. Models include a turnaround model, a restart model, a school closure model and a transformation model. These are defined. This legislation does not have bipartisan support, but I believe it has a Senate companion.
Ralph D. Maves, MSPA Lobbyist
Some bills showing up this year for consideration were as follows: There was a bipartisan bill which would have given more revenue to safe schools programs. It went nowhere. A DFL bill with Rep.Kahn as chief author would have made proficiency in a second world language a requirement for graduation. It did not get a hearing. A third bill which did not get a hearing was HF 2143 Mariani/SF 1837 Torres Ray.This bill would have set staffing ratios for teachers and student services personnel. Each school district and charter school would have been required to convene a data analysis team to analyze and interpret student performance data so that all licensed school staff could use the data to inform classroom instruction and improve student learning. “Each school board and charter school must engage in a formal strategic planning process that, among other things, targets at-risk student populations between prekindergarten and grade 12″. “Each school board and charter school must develop a strategic plan to promote parent education and parent community involvement for the purpose of improving student learning….” “By January 1, 2013, a school board would need to adopt a written policy that prohibits harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence…”To better understand a young child’s ability to learn, the screening required also may include an assessment and evaluation of the child’s social and emotional development, the child’s approaches to learning, language, and literacy development, and the child’s familiarity with math, science, and creative arts.”
A bill has been sent to the Governor and signed which would extend for one year the use of prone restraints. There are two final bills to mention. One would expand the use of the PSEO program, HF 2025, Urdahl. The second would require all students who graduate to have at least one course in digital learning, HF 2127, Myhra.
Ralph D. Maves, MSPA Lobbyist