NASBE believes that education should address the individual needs of each student. Each state board should assume an active leadership role to identify educational needs, priorities and plans of implementation for the state, based on these program principles:
Alternative Schools for Students at Risk of Failing or Dropping Out of School
Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenthood
Early Learning Education Policies
School-age Child Care
Equal Educational Opportunity
Students with Special Needs
Employment Training Programs
The Role of Schools in Confronting Social Issues
Civic Engagement and Ethical Behavior in a Global Society
Student Promotion and Retention
Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy
Student Data Privacy
A. At-Risk Students
- Programs for students at risk of school failure should include the following components:
- early interventions supported by monitoring, assessment, and follow-up;
- an effective learning environment;
- preparation of all staff to work with at-risk youth;
- high expectations in academics and student behavior; and
- linkages among schools, juvenile courts, and other social services agencies.
- Fiscal support should be provided by the states to school districts containing a high concentration of children at risk of educational failure.
- State boards should make at-risk youth a regular agenda item for their policy review cycles.
B. Alternative Schools for Students at Risk of Failing or Dropping Out of School
Successful alternative education programs and schools can help students who are not succeeding in the traditional school setting. State boards should ensure that alternative schools and programs for at-risk students have the following characteristics:
- They adhere to state education standards.
- They enforce well-defined standards of behavior.
- They provide the assessment and support services needed to clearly identify and address the cognitive, emotional, health and socio-economic factors affecting the education and development of their students. These services may be provided directly or through cooperation with other agencies.
- They maintain an appropriate student-to-staff ratio.
- They maintain a rigorous program for parental involvement.
- They maintain ongoing professional and staff development.
- They maintain a safe environment.
- They make appropriate life skills and job training available to all students. (1998)
C. Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenthood
- Schools should provide the information and skills necessary to assist students in avoiding adolescent pregnancy. Both male and female students must understand the impact of early parenthood.
- In cases of adolescent pregnancy and/or parenthood, all related programs, services, supports, and policies should be provided to both the male and female;
- Schools should coordinate with community teen pregnancy prevention activities and services for pregnant and parenting teens to develop comprehensive prevention plans. (1998)
D. Dropout Prevention
State boards should lead in establishing comprehensive dropout prevention programs. In particular they should:
- Help schools provide students with access to various academic, health, and social services need to complete their education;
- Establish policies for identifying and retrieving students who have already left the system.
- Work with state departments of education and local districts to collect accurate data on at-risk students and dropouts.
E. Corporal Punishment
Child abuse, including the psychological maltreatment of children and the use of corporal punishment in schools, is wrong and should be condemned.
F. Youth Service
State boards should encourage all schools to offer community service programs as an integral part of the learning process. State boards should foster these activities by:
- ensuring that service learning programs help students make connections between their service experiences and the rest of the educational program; and
- ensuring that service learning experiences are monitored and evaluated.
G. Early Learning Education Policies
Preschool child development programs have significant long term benefits for learning. Therefore, NASBE supports a wide variety of public, voluntary, and private arrangements for preschool development programs backed by a statewide vision for high quality early education. States developing preschool systems should consider having:
- Aligned, comprehensive prekindergarten through grade three early learning standards. Core requirements and standards for programs and professional development should reflect the research on effective early learning and development and address the capacity of programs to deliver quality instruction.
- Accountability based on a continuous improvement approach that includes ongoing evaluation to assess a program’s plan for meeting early learning needs, the quality of its implementation, and its impact on children and families. Accountability systems should use multiple age-appropriate indicators of both how children are progressing and the quality dimensions of classrooms so that needed improvements and professional development can be identified.
- State standards for teachers and preparation programs should require early childhood education teachers to have a Bachelor’s degree and specialized early childhood training at the college level consistent with a common vision of high-quality early education.
- Plans for increasing access to high-quality preschool programs, beginning with children from low-income families.
H. School-age Child Care
State Boards should encourage the coordination and extension of before- and after-school child care to unsupervised school age children. Such programs should ensure that all staff possess the training, credentials, and/or certification to meet the unique needs of the children participating.
I. Equal Educational Opportunity
- NASBE vigorously supports equal educational opportunity.
- American public schools are committed to educating all students. This commitment to equal educational opportunity means that schools must address the educational, social, and personal needs of diverse sets of students, including different racial and ethnic groups, females and males, and students with special needs. In addressing equal educational opportunity, state boards should strive for excellence without forsaking equity and strive for equity without forsaking excellence. Insuring these dual goals requires constant vigilance that one is not sacrificed in pursuing the other.
- State boards should provide leadership in eliminating the stereotyping and discrimination on the basis of sex, age, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic background and national origin in curriculum materials, counseling methods and other education processes.
- State board policies should be free of gender bias. In addition, NASBE supports ongoing efforts to encourage students of either sex to enter fields in which they have been traditionally under-represented.
J. Students with Special Needs
- To ensure equal educational opportunities, services should be provided for special student needs. Learning programs should identify and address the individual needs and learning styles of all students, including those who are disabled, disadvantaged, migrant, gifted or talented, parenting or pregnant, minority or of limited English proficiency.
- State boards should ensure that policies are developed and implemented which guarantee that all students are educated in school environments that include rather than exclude them. Inclusion means that all children must be educated in supported, heterogeneous, age-appropriate, natural, child-focused school environments for the purpose of preparing them for full participation in our diverse and integrated society.
K. Small Schools
Small schools and schools in rural areas commonly face special problems associated with distance, sparse population, poverty, and staffing. State boards must ensure there are programs that effectively meet the needs of children in such schools. Educational technology and shared services should be among the approaches used to alleviate the unique problems of small and rural schools.
L. Homeless Children
Studies show that the number of homeless families with children continues to grow and that many of these children do not attend school on a regular basis. In order to address this situation, NASBE:
- supports efforts to increase awareness about homeless children in the state; and identify state laws, policies, and practices that impede their access to free and appropriate education; and
- encourages state boards to work collaboratively with the state legislature and other organizations to ensure these students have access to a coordinated network of services.
M. Adult Education
NASBE supports efforts to strengthen efforts toward comprehensive statewide planning for a continuum of educational programs for adults.
N. Employment Training Programs
NASBE supports joint efforts among school districts, postsecondary institutions, profit, and nonprofit sectors to offer employment training programs that:
- are available to all students;
- coordinate curriculum content and programs in order to meet state labor market opportunities;
- provide academic credit for appropriate workplace experiences; and;
- encourage employers to utilize both experiences staff and certified instructors in employment training programs.
O. Comprehensive Services
- The nation’s schools and social service agencies should work together to solve difficult and complex problems and integrate services for young people and families in need. Such groups as preschool children, abused and neglected children, school-aged parents, youth in correctional institutions, families living in poverty, and adults in need of additional training require the services of a variety of agencies and would benefit from improved coordination.
- Research shows that health and nutrition are linked to a student’s ability to learn to high standards. State boards of education, along with other policymakers, should seek systemic change to ensure the provision of a comprehensive, whole-family approach in service delivery. (1997)
P. Character Education
- Schools should provide instruction to students in core character qualities that transcend cultural, religious, and socioeconomic differences such as common courtesy, respect for person and property, civic and personal responsibility, honesty, and fairness. (1998)
- Schools should provide a proactive, positive, skill-building approach for the teaching and learning of successful student behavior. (2008)
- State boards should encourage local school districts to promote the principles of character education and development that will foster positive character traits in students. (1998)
Q. The Role of Schools in Confronting Social Issues
The social context in which students live has an impact on their ability to learn and effectively transition into adulthood. This is an issue that is critical to schools but one they should not be expected to address alone. Nevertheless, schools have an important role to play in addressing the needs of students by helping them succeed academically and supporting their growth towards successful, productive, and healthy adult lives.
- NASBE supports state development of guidelines for positive environments that foster academic achievement and support the developmental needs of children and youth.
- State Boards of Education should take a leadership role in working with other state policymakers to create a shared vision and sense of responsibility for helping children and youth succeed.
- State Boards of Education should work with other stakeholders collaboratively to identify and use resources available to help schools provide safe, positive learning environments for student needs.
- Research shows that health and nutrition are linked to a student’s ability to learn to high standards. State boards of education, along with other policymakers, should seek systemic change to ensure the provision of a comprehensive, whole-family approach in service delivery. (1997, 1999)
R. Civic Engagement and Ethical Behavior in a Global Society
Promoting civic engagement in our schools and among our students is fundamental to preserving our traditional American values of self-government and our leadership among nations. NASBE encourages states to reinvigorate citizenship education by ensuring that students have the knowledge, skills, and disposition to engage effectively in their rapidly expanding worlds by:
- Incorporating civic learning into standards, pedagogy, assessment, and accountability policies whenever possible.
- Encouraging schools to work with community organizations to offer experiential opportunities that are relevant to students’ everyday lives and to academics, as well as encouraging experiential learning through extra-curricular activities; and
- Encouraging educators to include ethical discussion and lessons throughout the school day. (2007)
S. Student Promotion and Retention
- Both promoting students who do not achieve state education standards (“social promotion”) and retention in grade should be considered options of last resort. Rather, state boards should ensure that every student receives the educational services required to reach the standards.
Further, state boards should advocate:
- early childhood assessment, intervention, and education programs that prepare young children to succeed in school;
- ongoing assessment of student progress in meeting education standards, using more than one measure, to identify weaknesses at an early stage so that timely interventions can be applied; and
- adequate resources to schools for preventive and remedial interventions, including staff professional development. (2000)
T. Athletic Participation
It is recognized that student participation in extra-curricular athletic activity is predicated on activities that are embedded in a healthy school environment designed to ensure appropriate academic and athletic programs. To this end it is important that:
- Athletic eligibility is dependent on the student’s progress towards the successful completion of high school education as defined by the state;
- State Boards of Education consider policies that test and monitor the use of performance-enhancing drugs by high school athletes;
- State Boards of Education provide for coaching excellence by reviewing certification and professional development requirements and, if absent, establish certification and professional development requirements for all coaches. (2005)
U. Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy
State boards of education should urge their districts and schools to address the critical areas of digital citizenship, digital literacy, and social networking through the creation of appropriate policies and programs. State boards should also ensure that the state education department is prepared to offer resources and guidance for these efforts.
V. Student Data Privacy
Data is immensely valuable to education. Effective data use supports student achievement and allows the efficient operation of schools. However, data cannot be collected without factoring in the protection of that data. Safeguarding student privacy is a critical part of data use. Policymakers have a responsibility: to define how data is used by school officials (educators and staff), state and federal agencies, and third-party vendors who are working with schools; to inform families about their right to access and amend their child’s data and know how that data is being used; and to safeguard the privacy, security, and accuracy of that data.
In order to ensure that state and local data collection is effective, secure, and protects individual rights, NASBE recommends that states create and/or supplement their state’s privacy laws and policies with the following elements:
- A statement of the purposes of the privacy law or policy that acknowledges both the educational value of data and the importance of protecting that data;
- The designation of a person or group that is in charge of student data privacy for the state (which could be the state board of education and/or a newly created Chief Education Privacy Officer) that is responsible for: answering any stakeholder inquiries about student data privacy; and establishing and/or implementing statewide policies to protect all student data, including any collected post-secondary or workforce data, especially personally identifiable information;
- A set of strategies for promoting transparency and public knowledge that makes information about the “who, what, where, why, and when” of data collection easily accessible to parents and the public clarifying the importance of data for educational purposes, how that data is being used and protected, and what their rights are to view and amend their child’s data;
- A provision limiting third-party vendors from using student data for non-educational purposes unless expressly authorized in writing by the school and allowed under federal and state law;
- A review of the state’s current resources related to student data privacy, such as the state’s staff and technical capacity to store, manage, and protect the data;
- The creation of minimum statewide data security standards that incorporates administrative, physical, and technical safeguards; and
- A plan for ensuring educators and administrators have the knowledge, skills, and support to use education data effectively and securely through methods such as teacher or administrator preparation programs, annual professional development, and evaluations of classroom data use and security on an ongoing basis.
W. School Discipline Policies
Data from national and state sources have shown that a very significant number of students are being removed from classrooms through suspensions and expulsions, and referrals to law enforcement agencies, often through the inflexible administration of zero tolerance policies. These data also show that students of color—especially boys—and students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by suspensions, expulsions, and juvenile justice referrals. Students who are suspended or expelled often receive less instruction, have lower achievement levels, and are more likely to drop out—and dropouts are three times more likely to be incarcerated than those who graduate from high school.
In order to ensure that schools have safe, positive learning environments for all students, NASBE recommends that state policies regarding school discipline:
- Encourage districts and schools to move away from inflexible zero tolerance policies to address discipline in favor of more proportionate policies that reduce the number of suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to law enforcement in total as well as reduce the disparities in the rates of suspension and expulsion among different student groups;
- Require districts and schools to have school-wide discipline policies that set high expectations for behavior; provide clear, developmentally appropriate, and proportional consequences for misbehavior; keep disciplined students engaged in the educational process to the greatest extent possible, and have due process protections for all students.
- Promote implementation of positive behavioral interventions, restorative justice practices, peer mediation, counseling, and other discipline prevention strategies designed to improve school climate, maximize student learning, and minimize exposure to the juvenile justice system. This should include promoting school and district partnerships with community-based social services providers that can offer support when discipline issues are associated with underlying conditions such as psychological/emotional problems, drug or alcohol abuse, or family challenges,;\
- Require districts and schools to collect and report disaggregated data around suspensions, expulsions, school-based arrests, and court referrals, and to use this data to continuously improve local discipline policies and programs;
- Provide for collection of school- and district-level disciplinary data by the state board of education, to be reported to the public and used for improving state school discipline policies;
- Require districts to establish formal agreements with law enforcement agencies that support safety and positive school climate goals and that clearly define the different disciplinary and safety roles played by school administrators /staff and the school-based law enforcement personnel; and
- Encourage districts and schools to provide training to all adults who work in schools to help them improve and foster supportive disciplinary practices and respond to behavioral problems fairly and equitably.