Top 10 Legislative Updates for School Counselors
Written by: Samantha Vidal
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
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.
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!