The House Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety met Monday in a joint hearing with the Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety to delve into mental health services particularly for students and educators.
The committee heard from mental health professionals and others based in schools. Several of the witnesses agreed there is a great need for more counselors in schools, but they also focused on giving counselors more time to work directly with students instead of performing other duties, such as standardized testing.
The committee seemed interested in ways to improve upon a previously enacted law that requires school boards to enact a policy that a counselor must spend 80% of their work time on counseling.
TCTA submitted testimony outlining the need for coordinating referral and provision of mental health services by a school-based mental health professional, without adding any additional burdens to a teacher's workload.
Additionally, TCTA supports addressing mental health shortages and the expansion of tele-mental health options, such as Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine, statewide.
Legislators also discussed the role of online communications in mass violence..
This week, TCTA also attended a House Public Education Committee hearing regarding assessment, specifically the move to online STAAR assessment and unfulfilled recommendations from the 2016 Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability.
TCTA provided testimony outlining our thoughts on NextGen recommendations including the continued streamlining of TEKS, the use of non-test based indicators in the accountability system such as a climate survey, and the role of assessment in the current teacher shortage. TCTA anticipates that assessment will be one of the many high-profile topics to be tackled in the next legislative session, which begins in January.