Top 10 Legislative Updates for School Counselors

Top 10 Legislative Updates for School Counselors

Written by: Samantha Vidal

August 9, 2023

I hope you’ve had a chance to unplug and unwind this summer. It’s hard to believe a new school year is upon us.  As we start a new school year, there are new legislative changes that impact our work with students and families. The IDOE created a guiding document that is very helpful.

To make it even easier on you, we have disaggregated the list to find the information most relevant to school counselors. Here are the top 10 legislative changes you need to know!

1. HB 1449: 21st Century Scholars Auto-Enrollment

The CHE and IDOE will now identify eligible students and automatically enroll them in the 21st Century Scholars Program. They will also notify the family and explain the conditions required to participate in the program. The student can choose to opt out. While it isn’t abundantly clear, it appears CHE and IDOE will continue to determine eligibility in grades 7 and 8. More details can be found here.

2. Senate Bill 167: FAFSA Requirement for High School Seniors

This Bill requires all students, with some exceptions, to complete and submit the FAFSA no later than April 15 of their senior year. A school’s principal or counselor can waive this requirement if they were unable to reach the parent/guardian after two reasonable attempts.

3. HEA 1635: Graduation Rate Calculations

Effective July 1, 2023, school districts must change the way they report their graduation rates as they relate to graduation waivers. For the 2023-24 school year, no more than 9% of graduation waivers can be counted towards a school’s graduation rate. The IDOE sent a memo that provides more information. More information can also be found on page 3 of the Bill.

4. HEA 1635: ASVAB Grad Pathway Requirements

A student who elects the ASVAB as a graduation pathway must submit documentation demonstrating the student’s intent to enlist in the military (page 9).

5. HB 1447: Third Party Vendor

If a school uses a third party vendor for personal analysis, evaluation, or survey (for example, a needs assessment), the school corporation must 1) post a copy of the survey – ???on the school’s website 2) explain why this survey is being done, and 3) try to obtain written consent twice. If the parent/guardian does not respond but does not decline, the school may administer the survey. The Bill can be found here.

Three girls together, sitting on a bench.
Photo from Unsplash from priscilladupreez

6. HB 1002 Career Coaching and Meeting Requirements

This Bill requires public high schools to hold at least one career fair during regular school hours each school year. It also requires “certain school corporations” to include career awareness instruction, beginning July 1, 2024. More guidance is coming regarding the standards for this career awareness course and various grant funds for the career coaching and career scholarship account programs. More details on this Bill can be found here.

7. HEA 1001: Rethinking High School

This aims to maximize students’ four-year high school experience by helping students work toward current and future workforce demands and earn credentials of value. A focus on diploma flexibility and work-based learning initiatives will impact students’ post-secondary success. This initiative is set for implementation during the 2024-25 school year.

Want to dive deeper? Check out page 9 of the IDOE guiding document and the IDOE’s Indiana Graduation Landscape Analysis presentation from May 2023.

8. HEA 1001-2023:  Indiana Families No Longer Charged Textbook Fees

HEA 1001-2023 covers many issues affecting the state budget. This particular section took effect on July 1, 2023. Schools cannot charge families for books, hardware, computer software, digital content, Chromebooks, laptops, iPads, or other curricular materials. This also impacts costs associated with AP, CTE, and dual credit classes. Schools are prohibited from renting curricular materials to students. However, students may be charged for significant damage or lost materials. This does not apply to non-public schools, but allows parents to request reimbursement of fees charged for curricular materials if they meet financial eligibility requirements (p. 196).  This document has helpful answers to FAQs.

9. SEA 486:  McKinney-Vento and Changes to Training

The state law regarding McKinney-Vento was repealed but the federal law is still in place. School districts must still have a McKinney-Vento liaison and continue with previous requirements. More details can be found in this memo from the IDOE. Student-facing school employees are no longer required to complete inservice training on criminal gang awareness or recognizing the signs of seizures. Employees are still required to complete inservice training on human trafficking.

10. HEA 1251 (2022): New, Streamlined Academic Standards

On June 7, 2023, the State Board of Education (SBOE) approved streamlined K-12 Academic Standards in ELA, math, social studies, science, computer science, health and wellness, PE, fine arts, early learning, and new integrated STEM standards. These are called Indiana’s Future-Focused Academic Standards, and are aligned with the Indiana Graduates Prepared to Succeed (GPS). The IDOE will provide resources and professional development for educators in November 2023.

Well, you made it! Those are the top 10 legislative updates affecting school counselors during the 2023-24 school year. If you find some time (HA!) I encourage you to browse the IDOE’s guiding document for more information. This document contains information about STEM, the literacy of reading, dyslexia screeners, ADM counts, and other topics. Information regarding state update presentations will be forthcoming, including a COUNSELOR CONNECTions workshop at CIESC on September 28th. Registration will be posted to https://keepindianalearning.org/upcoming-events/. Here’s wishing you a smooth start and a successful school year!



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  • Samantha Vidal

    Samantha Vidal has worked as a school counselor for 15 years in urban, rural, and suburban settings. She helped to develop a comprehensive school counseling program that earned the Gold Star School Counseling Award, RAMP Award, Re-RAMP Award, and the Promising Practices Award from the IDOE. Samantha served as a RAMP Reviewer and ISCA Gold Star Reviewer and is now a part of the Carrying the Torch Advisory Council. Samantha was one of six national finalists for the American School Counselor Association’s 2016 School Counselor of the Year. She was previously recognized as the 2014 Indiana Elementary School Counselor of the Year by the Indiana School Counselor Association (ISCA). She served as ISCA’s President 2013 – 2014 and served on the ASCA Board of Directors 2017-2020.

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