The legislature acknowledges that the mental health and well-being of students in Washington schools is of utmost importance to improve academic learning and success in life. This act also addresses the reality that school districts have come to depend on educators and other school staff to be on the front lines of behavioral and mental health services for students. As a result, in certain situations, educators are expected to provide services for students in which they are not trained or qualified.
These facts exacerbate the need for robust training and educator demonstration of competency in order to address the mental health and well-being of students. Furthermore, there is a need for professional learning through micro-credentials focused on training and demonstration of skills in the classroom in order to ensure that educators are prepared to address student mental health, social, and emotional needs. This could be accomplished through the use of an online mental health first aid program.
This act adds a new section to RCW chapter 28A.630 to direct the Professional Educator Standards board to convene a work group to make recommendations for standards and professional development courses on student mental health and well-being, and for the development of a continuing education program.
By January 10th, 2020, the work group is expected to submit a preliminary report to the education committees and make recommendations for the adoption of knowledge, skill, and performance standards related to student mental health and well-being. A final report shall be submitted by January 10th, 2021.
Finally, by July 1st, 2022, the state standards of practice for para-educators must include knowledge, skill, and performance standards related to student mental health and well-being.