South Carolina Association of School Psychologists

Supporting learning and mental health of youth in South Carolina.

The ESSA and You

From a newsletter article by SCASP President, Lisa Lipscomb Ph.D., NCSP. Want more articles like this? Join SCASP for the entire newsletter.

  • Move over, NCLB! There’s a new law in town! In December 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As is true for any piece of legislation, ESSA is a lengthy, multi-faceted law. Here are some of the items in the law that are most likely to impact school psychologists: School psychologists are explicitly mentioned in at least two portions of the legislation.

First, school psychologists (whether licensed or certified) are recognized as school-based mental health providers. School psychologists throughout the state (and nation) continue to advocate for working conditions which allow us to function as more than evaluators. Having our profession explicitly listed within federal legislation as a mental health provider is an important step in our efforts.

Secondly, school psychologists are listed as belonging in the group of specialized instructional support personnel (or SISP). In many ways, this term is analogous to the term of “related service provider.” It includes other professions such as guidance counselors and even media specialists. Of key importance is that, when making their plans for implementation of ESSA, the law specifies that state and local agencies must consult with SISPs. The law also mentions the role of SISPs in other contexts, including the following: “identifying and supporting students most at risk of school failure; improving student literacy; addressing school climate and school safety; and supporting the mental and behavioral health of students” (NASP, 2016).

ESSA authorizes the use of funds for efforts related to improving student mental health, school climate, crisis intervention/prevention, and school safety, as well as addressing bullying and parent/school collaboration. Funds may also be used for professional development geared to enhancing the capacity of staff to provide multitiered systems of support. Of important note, Congress has not yet funded these initiatives. ESSA changes the formula for evaluation of school progress. Within ESSA, graduation rates and student test scores will still be considered. In addition, states must use “at least one indicator of school quality or student success that allows for meaningful differentiation, such as student or educator engagement, or school climate and safety” (NASP, 2016). Using this data, each state will develop plans to reach its goals. SISPs, amongst other stakeholders, must be consulted in the setting of these goals. ESSA mandates the reporting of data related to school climate, bullying, and harassment. As regulations are developed, more details regarding ESSA will become apparent. 


The South Carolina Association of School Psychologists is a membership organization that empowers school psychologists to advance the learning and mental health of students in South Carolina.

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Columbia Conference Center

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Continuing Education related to Domestic Violence

On January 29, 2015, Governor Nikki Haley established the Domestic Violence Task Force through Executive Order 2015-04. The Task Force was charged with tackling the cultural issues surrounding domestic violence in the State of South Carolina. One of the specific areas targeted was education for licensed professionals in the state of South Carolina. We’ve learned that most of our licensees don’t get training regarding domestic violence and those that do aren’t aware of the resources available to their patients who are in need of help.

More information can be found on the Safety/Mental Heath page.

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