The Minnesota School Psychologist Association (MSPA) represents licensed School Psychologists working in Minnesota public, private, and charter schools. School psychologists are uniquely qualified education specialists providing direct educational, behavioral, and mental health services for children and youth, as well as working with families, school administrators, educators, and other professionals to create supportive learning and social environment for all students.
MSPA provides school psychologist with leadership, support, legislative advocacy, and professional training to meet the needs of Minnesota children and youth.
School psychologists will serve as effective leaders in supporting the learning and mental health of children and youth in Minnesota.
MSPA Legislative Priorities for 2018-2019
The purpose of the 2018-2019 legislative platform is to support the Mission and Vision of MSPA by establishing the legislative agenda for the upcoming legislative sessions. MSPA has established three critical priority areas for 2018-2019.
Safe and Successful Schools
School Psychologists are uniquely positioned to advocate for evidence-based initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels. Today’s schools are expected to play a critical role in crisis prevention and intervention (Stein & Wong, 2014, McDermott, Duffy, Percy, Fitzgerald, & Cole, 2013). As demonstrated in recent school-associated crisis events, schools are integral to overall community crisis response. When a crisis occurs, schools must have comprehensive school safety and crisis response plans and teams in place. These plans and teams address all aspects of crisis preparedness – prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). Creating safe and successful schools is fostered through collaboration among school staff, community-based service providers, community, caregivers, and stakeholders toward a comprehensive public health approach (cite when released - tomorrow). In creating safe and successful schools, MSPA has endorsed and implemented training of approximately 300 School Psychologists using the National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) PREPaRE Model based upon research and culturally-informed curriculum, and training. This training is designed for educators and other school-employed mental health professionals committed to improving and strengthening prevention, intervention, and recovery (Brock, Nickerson, Louvar Reeves, Connolly, Jimerson, Pesce, and Lazzaro, 2016). The PREPaRE Model is foundational to the implementation of training and implementation for a state-wide crisis response team. Training will assist Minnesota educators, students, families and communities through continuous and sustainable crisis and emergency preparedness, response, and recovery planning.
MSPA further advocates for the following comprehensive school safety policies and practices:
• team training and collaboration with Specialized Instructional Support
Professionals (SISP) and school administrators to allow for delivery of a full
range of services and effective school-community partnership;
• effective, positive school discipline that functions with efforts to address school
Effective school discipline:
• is viewed within the context of reinforcing positive behaviors;
• safeguards the well-being of all students and staff;
• employs culturally responsive practices;
• incorporates care-giver and family unit involvement.
• Professional development to increase knowledge and capacity in creating,
supporting, and sustaining trauma-informed schools and suicide prevention.
Shortages in School Psychology
The vision of the Minnesota School Psychologist Association is that all children and youth thrive in school, at home, and throughout life. Minnesota continues to face a critical shortage of practicing school psychologists, most notably in greater Minnesota. This critical shortage has the potential to significantly undermine the availability of high quality and comprehensive school psychological services to students, caregivers, and schools. Shortages can include both an insufficient supply of qualified school psychologist as well as an insufficient number of positions to meet the needs of students.
Contributing factors to the shortages include:
• shortage of qualified faculty for school psychology training programs
• difficulty attracting graduates in greater Minnesota or where position vacancies
• difficulties retaining qualified school psychologists
• shortage of approved internships and qualified internship supervisors
• limited availability of racial-ethnic, cultural, and linguistically diverse school psychologists
In a 2016 national NASP survey conducted by Minnesota School Psychologist Dan Hyson and colleagues, only 13% identified as racial or ethnically diverse and only 14% reported involvement in bilingual or multilingual service delivery. There is no such data available regarding Minnesota’s school psychologists.
MSPA further advocates for the following action steps:
• implement a comprehensive School Psychology role that aligns with the NASP Practice Model. A significant barrier to retention is burnout or being confined to a narrow role. Given a more comprehensive role reduces this concern (Protor & Steadman, 2003).
• provide and support opportunities for obtaining high quality professional
• make concerted efforts at recruiting culturally and linguistically diverse graduate students, practitioners, and faculty.
• provide a pathway to full licensure for highly-qualified school psychologist who have been trained according to field standards and will help to meet the needs of students in schools, but how have not graduated from NASP-approved programs.
Minnesota Schools are becoming increasingly diverse and segregated with wide and persistent academic achievement gap. Minnesota has more than 200 schools in which students of color make up 90 percent or more of the enrollment. In these schools, there is a higher chance of higher rates of poverty and lower achievement rates on standardized testing then in more diverse schools or schools with concentrations of white students. (Magan, 2017). MSPA is committed to advancing policies and practices that meet the needs of all students. All students – whatever their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, religion, gender identification, gender expression, or sexual orientation – are entitled to an equitable and high quality educational environment. This includes supporting students with diverse backgrounds by using culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy, including delivery in the language that best meets the students’ needs. In addition, schools implementing high-quality multi-tiered systems of support, which includes strong core curriculum in academics and social emotional and behavioral domains, as well as evidence-based interventions for students needing more support are likely to meet the needs of all of their students more effectively than those that do not focus on these core instructional strategies. Schools are expected to provide effective and comprehensive supports and services to help these students succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally (NASP, 2017). MSPA is committed to ensuring that all children and youth receive an appropriate public education.
To this end, MSPA further advocates for sustained advocacy on the following components:
• Disproportionality. The Minnesota Department of Education continues to identify disproportionate representation in special education among our Indigenous and African American populations. MSPA membership are encouraged to access the Promoting Fairness Manual at https://www.uwrf.edu/CSP/ReducingBias.cfm and the NASP Position Statement at http://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publication/resources/diversity/disproportionality
• Cultural humility is a continuous journey of personal and professional self-reflection, self-critique, curiosity, and inquiry, as lifelong learners. Several initiatives include increasing Mid-Winter conference presentations, addition of the MSPA board diversity committee, and dissemination of resources that address diversity issues (Tervalon, Murray-Farcia, 1998).
• Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning Youth. School psychologist are ethically obligated to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity for the development and expression of their personal identity in a school climate that is safe, accepting, and respectful of all person and free from discrimination, harassment, violence, and abuse. (NASP, 2017) MSPA monitors and responds to pertinent state legislative initiatives and support those which improve the lives of LGBTQ students.
Further initiatives include disseminating professional research, resources, and work groups to build and maintain communication and collaboration with membership and allied organizations.
• Social Justice. In 2017, the NASP Policy and Legislative platform stated NASP is committed to ensuring that all students-whatever their race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender (including identification and expression), sexual orientation, disability status, language proficiency, or immigration status-receive a high quality public education in a positive, safe, supportive, and inclusive educational environment that is free of bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence and promotes student learning.
Respectfully submitted by the MSPA Legislative Committee:
Dr. Sally A. Baas, MSPA Presiden, Legislative Co-Chair
Annie Hansen, MSPA Immediate Past President
Marilyn Leifgren, Legislative Co-Chair
Julene Nolan, President Elect
Kimberly Adams, NASP Delegate