A snapshot of US schools' responses to COVID-19
What can we learn from the "School Pulse Panel?"
Many readers are probably familiar with the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a product of National Center for Education Statistics of the US Institute of Education Sciences, because it reports results nationwide assessments of students’ proficiency (what they know and can do) in multiple areas. Beginning in 2021, NCES published results from the “School Pulse Panel,” a repeating survey of school administrators across the US about how schools are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 31 May 2022, NCES released results from April of 2022. The School Pulse Panel is focused heavily on structural features, asking administrators to report about instructional delivery and attendance. However, one particular finding may be of particular importance to readers of Special Education Today. A set of survey items addressed mental hearlth.
For example, one set asked to what extent students and school staff have sought mental health services since COVID-19 began, how schools were coping with mental health needs, and how successful administrators thought their schools had been in doing so. Here are three summary points from NCES:
• 70 percent of public schools reported that the percentage of students who have sought mental health services increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
• 29 percent of public schools reported that the percentage of staff who have sought mental health services increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
• 56 percent of public schools reported they moderately or strongly agree that their school is able to effectively provide mental health services to all students in need.
From my quick perusal of the results, I found some other findings to be of interest:
More than 20% of schools reported that students with Individualized Education Programs or 504 plans sought mental health services.
About 35% of school administrators reported that their schools had provided assistance (additional professional development, increased preparation time, proactive outreach) to school staff members regarding mental health issues.
Three in five administrators reported that their schools provided Covid-specific sick leave and nearly one in three provided additional sick leave o time off.
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