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.