Pre-K to 12 Education

Pre-K to 12 Education

APA advocates for the inclusion of psychologists and insights from psychological research in education policy, with the goal of helping students, teachers and school districts find success.

Key Legislation

Psychological Science Has a Role in Pre-K to 12 Education

Psychological science has much to contribute to enhancing education policy, teaching and learning by providing key insights. APA aims to elevate that research and use it to better the education system, from early childhood through secondary school.

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Effective Instruction

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Classroom Environments that Promote Learning

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Appropriate Use of Assessment

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Recent APA Advocacy Related to Education

February 2017

APA and Partners Defend Transgender Students’ Rights

APA joined 18 other national organizations — including the National Association of School Psychologists — in signing a Feb. 23, 2017, statement (PDF, 126KB) on the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind guidance on federal protections for transgender students. The statement notes that transgender students are more likely than their cisgender peers to face harassment and discrimination in school. Research has shown that this increases their risk for suicide, other self-harm, and drug use. Hence, federal policy explicitly clarifying protections is necessary to safeguard transgender students’ civil rights and well-being.

February 2017

Outreach to New Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

Following the recent confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the new Secretary of Education, APA sent a letter to her outlining APA’s education priorities (PDF, 195KB). It highlighted the breadth of APA’s education policy interests across a range of programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individual with Disabilities Education Act, the Higher Education Act, as well as the critical role of the Office of Civil Rights and the psychological research supported by the Institute of Education Sciences.

January 2016

Coalition Comments on Foster Care, Juvenile Justice Within Federal Education Policy

On Jan. 21, 2016, APA joined other national organizations in submitting comments to the Department of Education to promote timely and effective implementation of the foster care (PDF, 320KB) and juvenile justice (PDF, 440KB) provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

Children in foster care and in the juvenile justice system often have unmet needs and lack access to critical resources. Once implemented, ESSA will promote collaboration among agencies that will improve the stability and success of these children.

December 2016

APA Letter to Vice President-Elect Pence

APA joined 23 other organizations in sending a letter to Vice President-Elect Pence (PDF, 561KB), urging the incoming administration to ensure effective treatment for childhood mental and behavioral health disorders. The letter's list of opportunities for early identification and intervention included:

  • Expand training of health care providers, child care workers, home visitors, early intervention providers, teachers, school behavioral health providers, first responders, and others to identify mental health problems at an early age and link children in need with age-appropriate services.
  • Encourage evidence-based suicide prevention and mental health programs in schools and on college campuses.
April 2016

National Groups Call for Reversal of Harsh Disciplinary Measures in Pre-K Programs

In April 2016, APA joined 30 other national organizations in calling for reforms (PDF, 433KB) to the unnecessary practice of expelling and suspending young children from prekindergarten programs. Suspension and expulsion from early childhood education interferes with a child’s healthy development and interrupts the learning process. Furthermore, research shows stark racial disparities in pre-K suspensions, with black children making up 48 percent of preschoolers suspended multiple times while being only 18 percent of the preschool population overall. The organizations urge a move away from punitive discipline and toward developmentally-appropriate strategies that build collaboration among families, educators and other professionals, and help educators remain cognizant of biases.

March 2016

APA Co-Sponsors Briefing on Supporting Students With Disabilities as They Transition Into College and Work

On March 4, 2016, APA co-sponsored a congressional briefing titled “Transitioning to Adult Productivity: Supporting Secondary Students with Disabilities in Successful Movement to College and Career.” The briefing highlighted educational and psychological special education research funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the research arm of the Department of Education. 

Among the speakers, the presentation featured psychologist Laurie Powers, a professor at the Portland State University School of Social Work, who discussed her research on the My Life intervention that focuses on improving transition to adulthood through enhancing self-determination skills (e.g., goal setting, planning, problem-solving) for students in foster care with disabilities. The briefing was sponsored by the Friends of IES, a group of nearly 30 scientific associations, professional organizations and institutions, including APA.

November 2015

Early Math Education Research Featured on Capitol Hill

On Sept. 25, 2015, APA co-sponsored a congressional briefing titled “Building Strength in Numbers: How do Early Interventions in Math Instruction Add Up?” The briefing highlighted educational and psychological research on early math education funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the research arm of the Department of Education. The briefing was held, in part, to educate congressional staff about the importance of IES-funded research during a time when both House and Senate appropriations bills proposed significant decreases to the IES budget.
June 2015

APA Collaborates With NASP in Letter to Senate on Student Privacy

APA and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) wrote a letter to Sen. David Vitter (PDF, 211KB), R-La., expressing concern with legislation he introduced, the Student Privacy Protection Act (S. 1341). Vitter's legislation would amended the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and contains a section that prohibits psychological testing. In the joint letter, both organizations cautioned that this legislation will interfere with the provision of prevention and intervention services necessary to support student learning. The letter was also shared with all members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in advance of the full Senate's consideration of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). APA and NASP will continue to monitor Vitter's legislation and work jointly to educate Senate staff about our position.

April 2015

Letters Call for Federal Anti-discrimination Protections for LGBT Students

APA joined with 64 national partner organizations to urge members of Congress to co-sponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2015 (H.R. 846/S. 439) and to support its inclusion in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Educations Act (ESEA). In an April 13, 2015, letter (PDF, 161KB) sent to each member of the House of Representatives and Senate, the organizations made the case for federal protections to ensure safe and supportive school environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. APA also sent letters of support on June 8, 2015, to the bills' sponsors, Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. 

While federal laws related to discrimination and harassment in schools expressly address discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability and national origin, they do not provide protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. SNDA addresses this problem by prohibiting public schools from discriminating against any student based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

February 2015

APA Letter Outlines Priorities for Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization

APA sent a Feb. 2, 2015, letter (PDF, 18KB) to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee with recommendations for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. They included: 

  • Maintain a strong and focused investment in Title I to improve the education of low-income children and increase opportunities for economic mobility.
  • Resist efforts to politicize the Common Core State Standards Initiative that include the Next Generation Science Standards.
  • An increased focus on the social and emotional needs of students, and investment in both social and emotional learning and positive behavioral interventions and supports.

APA Joins Other Groups in Call for LGBT Inclusive Sex Education

Sixty-three organizations, including APA, joined “A Call to Action: LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education." Sponsored by Advocates for Youth, Answer, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS), the effort urges educators, advocates and policymakers to take immediate, concrete steps to provide LGBTQ-inclusive sex education for all youth.

APA also launched a related online resource for school professionals: Respect workshop: Preventing Health Risks and Promoting Health Outcomes among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students.

We have a tremendous opportunity to help shape the laws and policies that directly affect psychology and the populations we work with. We can make a real difference in our society.
—Melba Vasquez, PhD, ABPP, 2011 APA President

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Jenny Smulson
Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer, APA Education Government Relations 


About APA Advocacy

APA represents the largest and most visible national presence advocating for psychology at the federal level. There are three APA government relations offices and two APA-affiliated organizations that engage in government relations activities. 

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