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

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)

As thousands of third-graders prep for reading retest, districts and literacy coaches work to remove barriers. In May, the Mississippi Department of Education announced 8,941 students failed the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program in English Language Arts assessment, known casually as the “third-grade gate.” The test is a key part of the Literacy Based Promotion Act, which requires all third-graders to pass a reading test to determine whether they are ready to move on to the fourth grade.
     This year 74.5 percent of students hit that mark on the first try. Students who did not pass on
their first try had two more attempts over the summer. After the second attempt, the pass rate jumped to 82 percent. While a marked improvement, that means the remaining 6,000 students have just one more chance, or they can be held back. Districts are working hard to remediate their students in time. But they are working against several barriers, including teacher shortages, low parental engagement, language gaps and even vision problems. The state has assigned 80 literacy coaches to 182 school districts struggling the most with proficiency. These coaches spend a few days a week in the districts assisting teachers in instruction and modeling lessons. Recently, the department announced $3 million for summer reading grants in 24 school districts to help struggling readers.

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.

Release of "13 Reasons Why" associated with increase in youth suicide rates.
The Netflix show "13 Reasons Why" was associated with a 28.9% increase in suicide rates among U.S. youth ages 10-17 in the month (April 2017) following the shows release.... The number of deaths by suicide recorded in April 2017 was greater than the number seen in any single month during the five-year period examined by the researchers. When researchers analyzed the data by sex, they found the increase in the suicide rate was primarily driven by significant increases in suicide in young males.... The findings of this study add to a growing body of information suggesting that youth may be particularly sensitive to the way suicide is portrayed in popular entertainment and in the media..." see

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


Also access other news stories relevant to improving addressing barriers to learning through links at

We draw on a variety of standard sources to amass the above items (e.g., ECS e-clip at


Links to News sources  Related to the Center's Concerns

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