NASW Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization

March 5, 2010
The Honorable George Miller
Education and Labor Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
2205 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Sent via email: [email protected]
Dear Representative Miller:
NASW is pleased to offer our comments on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has a long history of working to ensure that all
students, particularly those at risk, meet their highest potential. The National Association of Social
Workers (NASW) is the largest organization of professional social workers with 150,000 members
nationwide. Founded in 1955, NASW has its national office in Washington, DC, 56 chapters across the
United States and abroad, and members in every congressional district. NASW is a membership
organization that promotes, develops and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW
also seeks to enhance the lives of the individuals, families, and communities we serve.
School social workers, the majority of whom hold masters’ degrees and are licensed and/or certified,
provide essential links among schools, homes, and communities. As members of the educational team
comprised of teachers, administrators, and parents, school social workers provide services that are critical
to students’ academic and social success. School social workers focus on family and community factors
that influence learning. They provide intensive services for students facing multiple risk factors,
including counseling, mental health services, and crisis intervention. They assist teachers in minimizing
discipline problems and other classroom disruptions and supporting students with learning and
developmental disabilities. They work to increase parental involvement and often prevent costly
litigation by mediating disputes among students, parents, and school systems.
The NASW 2002 Standards for School Social Work services states: “All programs incorporating school
social work services shall require ongoing evaluation to determine their contribution to the educational
success of all students.” Evidence of school social work effectiveness has been well documented and most
recently in Michael S. Kelly’s 2010 book, School Social Work: An Evidence-Informed Framework for
Practice, in which he describes empirically supported social skills interventions by school social workers.
Further, a 2009 meta-analysis by Cynthia Franklin examined the effectiveness of 21 school social work
practices using such variables as a student’s externalizing, internalizing, and academic outcomes. In other
words, they measured aggression and conduct problems, depression and withdrawal, learning, attendance,
and grade point averages. The results of the study revealed school social work practice interventions have
a significant effect on academic outcomes and grade point average.
In addition to documenting their effectiveness, school social workers receive additional credentials
through our Certified School Social Work Specialist certification (C-SSWS). Established in January
2000, the certification provides employers with a clear identification of school social workers who meet
national standards of competency in school social work and adherence to the NASW Standards for School
Social Workers and the NASW Code of Ethics, exceeding the licensure and regulation standards of their
respective state jurisdiction.
Specifically, school social workers who obtain a C-SSWS meet the following minimal qualifications:
Master of Social Work degree from a university accredited by the Council on Social Work
Completed at least two academic years (2,160 hours) supervised school social work experience in
a school setting
Currently licensed as a social worker or a school social worker
School social workers who hold the C-SSWS certification have been assessed in thirty-six areas of
competency by a school social worker or master’s-prepared education professional who has directly
supervised their work and confidential ratings are required from a social work colleague who has
observed the C-SSWS holder in 11 areas of school social work practice.
States, municipalities and individual school districts utilize the NASW Standards for School Social Work
and the C-SSWS in varying capacities to guide certification, licensure, regulation and salary
supplementation of the school social work profession. Professional certification standards protect the
public, the school system, and the school social worker in the event of professional liability claims. In
2003, the Louisiana Department of Education began offering a salary supplementation to school social
workers who are certified, solidifying the State’s commitment to protect the public and to affirm the
state’s commitment to retaining highly skilled, nationally competent school social workers. Louisiana
reaffirmed the salary supplement in 2009.
As we have demonstrated, school social workers are well trained and prepared for their duties. However,
as a profession, school social workers are stretched too thin. The current ratio of school social workers to
students is 1:400. This is a significant workforce shortage that must be addressed if children at risk of
school failure are to receive needed services. We have been working diligently to address this workforce
shortage and we urge your committee to consider including the Increased Student Achievement Through
Increased Student Support Act, H.R. 1361, into any reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.
On March 5, 2009, Representative Edolphus Towns introduced The Increased Student Achievement
Through Increased Student Support Act which seeks to increase support professionals within our nation’s
urban and rural schools that are most in need. It will have a tremendous impact on the lives of children by
creating a better trained and prepared school social work workforce to address the psychosocial and
emotional issues that can impede educational performance. It creates a federal grant program designed to
increase the number of school social workers, school counselors, and school psychologists serving lowincome local educational agencies (LEAs) by creating a pipeline between institutions of higher education
and low-income school districts. Institutions of higher education with graduate training programs in
school social work, school counseling, and school psychology that develop collaborative training and
placement partnerships with LEA’s will be eligible to apply for federal grant funds to hire and pay
participating graduates to work in those schools. Program participants who remain employed in a lowincome school setting for a minimum of five years will be eligible for loan forgiveness.
By expanding the number of school social workers in low-income, high-need schools, we can improve the
school and life success for students throughout the country. As your committee continues its efforts to
reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act we hope that you will consider us a resource and partner in this
endeavor. Our website,, contains useful information that you might reference to
include standards of practice for school social workers, a school social work credential, and numerous
publications and reports about the impact that social workers make to enhance the lives of our nation’s
students and families every day. Feel free to call upon NASW at any time.
Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH
Executive Director