Center for MH in Schools & Student/Learning Supports


Keep up with the National Initiative for Transforming Student and Learning Supports. For details and for free access to the new work entitled: Transforming Student and Learning Supports: Developing a Unified, Comprehensive, and Equitable System, see

Homelessness -- even among college students. A 2019 survey of nearly 86,000 students found that homelessness affected 18 percent of respondents attending two-year colleges and 14 percent attending four-year institutions, with 60 percent at two-year colleges and 48 percent at four-year institutions facing housing insecurity.

More US Schools Teach in English and Spanish, but Not Enough to Help Latino Kids.Roughly 3.8 million students in U.S. schools are native Spanish-speakers who are not proficient in English. They make up the bulk of the approximately 5 million students nationwide identified as English language learners, the fastest-growing demographic in schools - and the lowest-performing, as judged by achievement tests and graduation rates. Classes taught in both languages help students from various backgrounds, but many districts have fought to keep Spanish out of schools.

Housing Vouchers, Like Other Anti-Poverty Programs, Increase Test Scores, NYC Study Shows. Housing vouchers boost the math and reading scores of New York City public school students, according to a new study the latest evidence that anti-poverty programs help low-income students do better academically.


WA High Schools Do Away With Federal Testing Requirements, Create Seven Pathways for Student Success

Starting this school year, Washington students won’t need to pass a federal test to earn a high school diploma. Instead, there are now seven pathways, and districts will have some flexibility in how they’re crafted. |

Prioritizing Federal education grants for economically-distressed communities. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the Department will prioritize funding for grant applications that support students, teachers and parents in economically-distressed communities, known as Opportunity Zones. The Opportunity Zones priority will allow the Department to focus on grantees that do their work in an Opportunity Zone, grantees that are located in an Opportunity Zone, and grantees that will increase the impact of each federal dollar by partnering with a Qualified Opportunity Fund.

Social workers help homeless students find safe place to rest. A school district in Idaho and one in Washington state are working together to get students without stable housing the resources they need, such as clothing and transportation, says social worker Cynthia Nunez. Social worker Jil Taylor says it's important to focus on students' mental health, adding, "To get up and go to school when they are tired, or if they don't know where they are staying, that's a lot of stress for them." (Lewiston Tribune)

Connection between racial achievement and discipline. The achievement gap between black and white students is tied to gaps in discipline rates, according to an analysis of data from the Civil Rights Data Collection and the Stanford Education Data Archive. Francis Pearman, lead author of the study, says the findings show that intervention efforts aimed at closing achievement gaps and addressing discipline may have "spillover effects on each other."

As CO Invests More in Preschool, a Gold-Standard Study Shows Benefits of Full-Day Classes. A new study shows large literacy gains and other benefits for full-day preschoolers as they enter kindergarten compared with their half-day peers - timely findings given the surge of new publicly funded preschool classrooms in Colorado. | Chalkbeat, Sept. 27

Child Poverty. Data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau illustrates the failure of our government to lead on child poverty, which remains higher in the United States than in nearly all similarly developed countries. The U.S. Census Bureau found that 16.2 percent of children (11.9 million) were living in poverty in 2018 and that children are 54.4 percent more likely to live in poverty than adults.
       The National Academy of Sciences' landmark study on child poverty released in February 2019 makes clear that we have the tools to eradicate child poverty. All that is needed is the political will to deploy them. The study, called A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty, outlines policy and program changes that, if implemented, would reduce child poverty by half within a decade ( ).
    Progress is possible. It is time to act. The U.S. Child Poverty Action Group, a partnership of child-focused organizations dedicated to eradicating child poverty, recently launched End Child Poverty US, a campaign to cut child poverty in half within a decade by setting a national target. Similar approaches in peer countries have proven the impact of targets. The United Kingdom cut its child poverty rate in half between 1999 and 2009 and Canada is on track to cut its child poverty rate in half in less than a decade after establishing an expanded child allowance in 2016.

TN — School Officials to Consider ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ Before Discipline
Signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee, Senate Bill 170 requires school systems to come up with plans for assessing students who go through “adverse childhood experiences” and consider those circumstances when meting out major disciplinary measures such as suspension or expulsion, in-school suspension or alternative school. (The Daily Memphian)

More States Requiring Mental Health Education. Several states have either approved or have legislation in the works related to mental health education. Some of them are aimed at addressing concerns about additional workloads and teacher training. (Education Dive)

Texas works to reform school suspensions. School suspensions among prekindergarten through second-grade students in Texas declined by almost 31% between the 2015-16 and 2017-18 school years, according to a report from Texans Care for Children. Data, however, show that some groups of students -- including those in foster care, black students and those in special education -- are more likely to be suspended. Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Report: Student Suspensions Have Dropped Under TX Law. The rate of student suspensions in Texas has fallen by nearly a third since the state enacted a law barring schools from suspending children except under extreme circumstances, according to a children’s advocacy group. (Associated Press)

How Each State Distributes Money for Public Schools and At-Risk Students. The Every Student Succeeds Act has brought a new focus to school funding and how it works, including a new federal requirement for states to report how much individual schools receive per pupil. But the number of approaches states take to support their schools, and whether they account for special student populations, still vary dramatically. (Politics K-12 at Education Week)

Schools can replace officers with counselors. Five Arizona East Valley school districts will now have to decide whether grant money they now use to pay for security officers should be diverted to hiring counselors or social workers. The state Superintendent of Public Schools has advised that Chandler Unified, Tempe Union, Mesa Public Schools, Tempe Elementary and Kyrene can reexamine their use of School Safety Program grants they now get for school resource officers. School officials across the state had hoped that the $20 million appropriation would help them address the worst counselor-student ratio in the nation. Arizona’s student-to-counselor ratio is 905-to-1 — well above the national average of 455-to-1 and the recommended ratio of 250-to-1. Throughout late last year and early this year, students appeared before numerous school boards urging them to hire more counselors and social workers. Some knew students who had taken their lives — or attempted to — and said they could have been helped if counselors were on their campuses. They expressed frustration that the counselors that were at their schools were overwhelmed not only by their huge caseload but also by responsibilities that had nothing to do with student emotional and mental well-being. They also argued that counselors and social workers were more effective than SROs in preventing violence in schools because they were better equipped to address the problems that can provoke a troubled student into attacking classmates.

OR Students Can Now Take 'Mental Health Days' Home From School  see Oregon will allow students to take “mental health days” just as they would sick days, expanding the reasons for excused school absences to include mental or behavioral health under a new law that experts say is one of the first of its kind in the U.S. (TIME)

Schools struggle with unfunded mandates: Many causes worthy, but there is only so much
money and time available. By law, Indiana teachers require regular training in such areas as suicide prevention, child abuse and neglect, CPR, bullying prevention and human trafficking. In the 2019 General Assembly, a new law passed, which takes effect July 1, 2020, that requires seizure awareness training for all employees who have direct, ongoing contact with children. The training is to take place upon employment and at least once every five years. While the various training requirements address important needs, the state laws often are passed without added resources to pay for the training or programs required, something often referred to as “unfunded mandates.” Some government officials are aware of the challenges posed by increasing unfunded mandates. In the last legislative session, HEA 1400 requested an education summer study committee look at unfunded mandates and required teacher training. 

Nation's schools serving more students under IDEA  
A New federal data shows that there are more children in special education and they are accounting for a greater percentage of public school students across the country. For the 2017-2018 school year, there were 7 million students ages 3 to 21 receiving services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. These students represented 14 percent of all kids attending public schools. The figures come from an annual report by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics that offers a snapshot of what's happening in American education see

Youth suicide prevalence reaches highest point since 2000.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that adolescents ages 15 to 19 and young adults ages 20 to 24 had suicide rates of 11.8 per 100,000 and 17 per 100,000 in 2017, respectively, both of which are the highest percentages since 2000. Researchers also found a 14.2% annual increase in suicide prevalence among teen boys between 2015 and 2017, compared with an 8.2% annual increase among teen girls between 2010 and 2017.

1.3 Million Homeless Students:
New Federal Data Show a 70 Percent Jump in K-12 Homelessness Over Past Decade, With Big Implications for Academic Performance. Utilizing data from 44 states, the report shows that students who experienced homelessness during the 2016-17 school year had a graduation rate of 64 percent — compared with a 77.6 percent graduation rate among other low-income students, and a national average of 84.1 percent. See


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