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.
The substitute bill replaced the substantive provisions of the original bill with provisions that have the following effect:
- Directs the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) and the Para--educator Board to incorporate social-emotional learning standards, benchmarks, and specified related competencies into standards for principals, teachers, and parade-ucators by January 1, 2020
- Directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to create and publish on its website an inventory of resources available for professional development of school district staff on specified topics
- Requires school districts to use one of the state funded professional learning days to train staff on specified topics, beginning in the 2020-21 school year, and every other school year thereafter
Directs the PESB to review preparation programs to assess whether and to what extent the programs are meeting knowledge, skills, and performance standards, and publish the results on its website.