Faculty principals say no to extra testing and sure to extra psychological well being providers

It’s inspiring to see school principals across the country face the challenges of pandemic leadership – especially given the lack of training, funding and support. Most school principals do their best to meet the daily challenges of the pandemic school while advocating for their teachers, staff, students and the school community. There is new survey data to back this up. Among other things, it shows that as the pandemic progresses, school principals say no to more tests and yes to more psychiatric services.

NAESP surveyed clients, and the results are in.

In late December 2020, the NAESP surveyed 860 elementary and middle school leaders across the country to learn how schools are safely conducting classes, whether they have the resources to respond to the pandemic, and how the pandemic is affecting their schools . The key results of the survey show that school principals say no to more testing and yes to more mental health services. But they can’t do more without more money.

We cannot tackle learning losses without additional resources.

Nearly 25 percent of respondents do not have the financial means to provide additional services, staff, or programs to address learner losses or backward students. Funds are being used for areas they would not normally be and there is no more money. We can’t fault school principals for prioritizing student and PSA meals first. This is the reality of the pandemic school leadership. It balances Maslow and Bloom, knowing that Maslow must come first now.

We cannot support the mental health of students without more support staff.

Almost 70 percent do not have enough school-based mental health professionals to adequately care for all vulnerable students. This one is heartbreaking. Our students are anxious, worried, and fearful more than ever. Suicide rates have risen and the school, which is often the safety net for many students, has become unreliable. Schools need more funding to provide school-based psychiatric care to students. If schools don’t have these professionals and services, we will continue to experience untreated anxiety, depression, and more loss of learning.

So many students don’t come to school.

82 percent of respondents said the pandemic affected students from visiting their school or caused students to go missing. The school principals go out of their way to get students to show up to school online or in person. The reality is that many students do not have equal access to technology and WiFi. According to survey data, the students who fail to show up are students without internet or with disabilities.

We don’t want to test students or evaluate teachers this year.

Seventy percent of respondents said that states should have exemptions that release them from the obligation to take standardized tests for the school year. From a school principal’s point of view, the purpose of testing is to collect data and that data will not be accurate this year, especially when so many students are absent from school. Why should teachers and students be exposed to the stress of testing, let alone the possibility of putting their physical health at risk (testing must be done in person) when the data is not useful? The same goes for teacher reviews. How can we rate teachers in pandemic classes if we’ve never taught like this before?

The silver lining? School principals stand up for us all.

Many of the respondents also wrote in their own words about the challenges they face and what they need to address those challenges. I felt a glimmer of hope as I read things like “Flexibility and empathy are paramount in these unexplored times” and “Teachers and paraprofessionals have been our heroes throughout the pandemic”. Conclusion: Headmasters can’t do more with less. School principals need more money to run successfully during a pandemic. In the meantime, they show up every day, making difficult decisions and doing the best they can for all of us.

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Plus, why “We’ve always done it this way” just won’t cut it for schools anymore.

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