Safe and Supportive Schools

Students in classroom holding paper crafts

 

To ensure wellness, learning, and physical and psychological safety across the learning community, an integrated approach is essential to promote a comprehensive and aligned Safe and Supportive School Program (SSSP).

The SSSP is a systemic and coordinated multitiered support system that addresses school climate, the social and emotional domain, and behavioral and mental health and wellness; it includes collaboration with community, county, and state organizations; conducting behavioral threat assessments; and the implementation of a multi-hazard approach to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from crisis situations. 

The information and resources provided on this page are intended to support the implementation of the SSSP which includes a multitiered system of supports that addresses the academic and non academic needs of students.

Multi-tiered System of Supports

Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a research-based framework for the systemic alignment of school-wide practices, programs, and services to support both the non-academic (social, emotional, mental and behavioral health and wellness needs) and academic development of students, as well as address the physical and psychological safety of all individuals within the school community.

The MTSS framework incorporates a multidisciplinary process that includes school staff, students (as appropriate), families, and community partners to provide support to students. The MTSS framework is based on tiers of support beginning with universal supports (including screenings) provided to all students and increasing in levels of supports or tiers that range from targeted to intensive interventions. To achieve the greatest impact, interventions and supports must be implemented with consistency and fidelity.

The MTSS framework should address school climate, academic support, behavioral health and mental health services and support, and integrated student supports, which includes community partnerships.

The SSSP defines "School Climate" as the quality and character of school life as reflected in its norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures, as experienced by students enrolled in the school district, parents of those students, school personnel, and members of the community.

Addressing school climate through the MTSS framework influences the experiences of the school community members and has a direct impact on student learning and development. Each campus should annually measure school climate using a school climate survey, a bullying and cyberbullying survey, and any other school and local community data that impacts the quality and character of school life. Analysis of the data allows campuses to identify opportunities for improvement of the school climate in the areas of peer and adult relationships including bullying and cyberbullying awareness and prevention, teaching and learning practices, recruitment and retention of quality staff, student and staff engagement and connectedness to the school community, and student, staff and parent perceptions of safety at school.

Using the MTSS framework, campuses develop and implement school-wide and classroom specific strategies and supports that are delivered to all students to address the opportunities for improvement identified during the analysis of the data collected. Ongoing monitoring of student response to the universal strategies and supports through the multidisciplinary process allows the campus to identify and support students who need additional targeted or intensive intervention. 

TEA has developed guidance and curated a suite of resources to support the efforts of campuses and districts in improving school climate.

School Climate Resources

Establishing campus and classroom culture routines that promote student readiness to learn supports students' academic development. Established and effective routines provide a learning environment that promotes academic risk-taking and student ownership of learning so that all students can engage with standards-aligned, high quality learning experiences that facilitate the development of the knowledge and skills that prepare them for college, a career, or military service.

Regular monitoring of student academic development within the classroom provides educators with opportunities to adjust classroom routines and instructional strategies and provide students with additional supports to meet their needs. Student response to the supports is monitored through the multidisciplinary process embedded in the MTSS framework. When the need for additional support is identified, students are provided with targeted or intensive intervention. Addressing non-academic (social, emotional, mental and behavioral health and wellness needs) and academic development of students through the MTSS framework enables students to reach their full potential.

The Texas Education Agency has partnered with the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk and the University of Texas to develop academic pathways that provide evidence-based tiered interventions that educators can use to support students.

Academic Support Resources

Comprehensive school mental health systems support the safety, academic success, and well-being of students. The comprehensive school mental health system is built on a strong foundation that brings together a diverse group of stakeholders to plan, implement, and improve the system; conducts regular needs assessments to understand the strengths, gaps, and needs within the local context; selects and implements culturally-responsive services and supports that are backed by evidence of their effectiveness, and engages in on-going performance monitoring and quality improvement.

Key Concepts -- Comprehensive School Mental Health systems provide a continuum of services and supports intended to:

  • Promote a positive school climate;
  • Teach and support skills for social, emotional, and behavioral health;
  • Prevent mental health and substance abuse problems;
  • Intervene early to reduce the severity of mental health concerns; and
  • Provide school-based and community-based interventions and supports to students and families.

Behavioral and Mental Health Services and Support Resources

Integrated student supports encompass a wide variety of interventions, supports, and practices that schools implement to improve student academic outcomes by addressing the academic and non-academic needs that often pose a barrier to teaching and learning.  This work is grounded in the understanding that educational success is directly impacted by factors both within and outside of the classroom and that the needs of the "whole child" must be met using a wraparound approach to maximize the effectiveness of academic instruction.

Schools that implement integrated student supports use a data driven approach to identify and address the factors impacting students’ educational success and to monitor the effectiveness of the services and supports provided to the students and their families.  The factors impacting educational success are identified through the analysis of data collected using a needs assessment. Based on the identified needs, the school can develop and deliver universal supports and provide targeted and intensive interventions and services to students and their families. Schools engage in partnerships with community, county, and state organizations to provide students and their families with coordinated services. Regular data tracking ensures that student needs are met on a consistent basis.

Integrated student supports are aligned with the MTSS framework and enhance both academic and non-academic outcomes for students.

Integrated Student Support Resources

Threat Assessments

To promote the safety and well-being of the members of the school community, the Safe and Supportive School Program Team is tasked with reviewing threat reports, conducting threat assessments, and developing interventions to support individuals who pose threats and the targets of such threats. The threat assessment process is designed to preserve a safe school environment that promotes the physical and psychological safety of all members of the school community. The TEA has coordinated with the Texas School Safety Center to develop guidance and resources to establish a comprehensive threat assessment model.

Crisis Preparedness and Response

Preparing for a crisis situation includes developing and implementing a procedure that uses a multiphase and multi-hazard approach to prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery of crisis situations.  This procedure should be responsive to incidents defined in the Multi-Hazard Emergency Operation Plan (EOP) developed in accordance with the guidance provided by the Texas School Safety Center as well as crisis situations that may occur outside of the scope of the EOP.

Texas School Mental Health Resource Database

TEA, in collaboration with the Texas Regional Education Service Centers (ESCs) and Westat - the Region 14 Comprehensive Center, has developed the Texas School Mental Health Database. This tool allows Texas school personnel and other stakeholders to search and filter state and local resources to connect their school teams and families with mental health services and related support.

Training Modules

TEA has developed a suite of learning modules with facilitator playbooks to help equip school teams with research-based practices for implementing comprehensive school mental health and wellness, addressing trauma, and whole child instruction

Data and Reports icon

Safe and Supportive School Program 

*Anticipated release Summer 2022

Data and Reports icon

Texas Project Restore

Training to address trauma and create a positive learning environment.

Data and Reports icon

Whole Child Instruction 

*Anticipated release Summer 2023

Safe and Supportive School Program Guidance

TEA is currently developing a series of guidance documents to support local education agencies (LEA) in the implementation of the critical elements of the Safe and Supportive School Program. The guidance documents will provide LEAs with reflective questions for consideration to facilitate program evaluation and development of next steps in implementation of each of the areas. The Positive School Climate button below is not yet active.

Threat Assessment
Process
Positive School Climate
*Anticipated - Summer 2022

Operation and Instructional Time Waivers for School Safety Training

To ensure that the employees of an LEA have sufficient time to attend required safety training, Texas Education Code (TEC), Sec. 25.0815 enables LEAs to apply for a waiver that allows for fewer minutes of operation than required under TEC, Sec. 25.081(a). In order to qualify for the waiver, the training course must be listed on the Texas School Safety Center’s List of Approved Trainings for Operational and Instructional Time Waivers for School Safety Training.

In additional to using an approved training course, the waiver:

1.       must allow sufficient time for the school district's educators to attend the school safety training course; and

2.       may not:

(A)  result in an inadequate number of minutes of instructional time for students; or

(B)  reduce the number of minutes of operation and instructional time by more than 420 minutes.

A district may request this waiver using the "Other" waiver application in the TEAL Online System.

Communication from the TEA

The Texas Education Agency periodically provides information to local education agencies though the To the Administrator Addressed (TAA) bulletins. The TAAs related to the Safe and Supportive School Program are available below.

Resources