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Opinion: NCLB Rewrite Should Address Mental Health in Students

Opinion: NCLB Rewrite Should Address Mental Health in Students

One expert is expressing concern over the lack of physical and mental well-being of students being included in the definition of student success and achievement in the potential No Child Left Behind rewrite currently being debated in Congress.

Henry Brzycki, an expert for over thirty years in the fields of both education and psychology, argues that there is more to define student success than test scores in core subjects, that these scores alone will not indicate whether a student is prepared for success in the future.

He wants to see more emphasis on the importance of student mental health and well-being in education reform and thinks a federal standard on what districts and schools offer to students by way of mental health is necessary.

"Our young people require additional support to succeed in school, careers and life. These supports are a combination of personal counseling for personal awareness about life purpose, dreams, and well-being; career counseling for career match or fit; and, academic curricula that supports the development of competencies," he said on ASCD's SmartBlog on Education.

"I suggest that if Senators Alexander and Murray shift their focus to psychological attributes of students, e.g. purpose in life, dreams for their lives, happiness and awareness of emotions, intrinsic motivations, among others, then students will succeed at much higher levels and will be better prepared for a positive life course trajectory — one filled with well-being."

As of now, more children are being diagnosed with mental health disorders than ever before. Brzycki uses as an example the American Freshman Survey, an annual report that is in its 50th year. Collecting data from over 150,000 students, the survey revealed that this past year has seen a record low for students reporting good emotional health.

"When asked to rate their emotional health in relation to other people their age, only 50.7% of the students reported that their emotional health was 'in the highest 10%' of people or 'above average.' It’s the lowest rate since the survey began measuring self-ratings of emotional health in 1985, demonstrating that college and career readiness standards need to include well-being standards and measurement of well-being outcomes," he said.

He urges both educators and policy makers to place a greater emphasis on considering the well-being and mental health of students when deciding how to best prep students for the future. He would like to see mental health care as a staple of 21st century education.

Read his full post and comment your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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