Public Comment – Senate Committee on Higher Education SB 460

Public Input Provided in 2013

April 17, 2013

Good Morning,

My name is Belinda Carlton and I am a Public Policy Specialist with the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD). TCDD is established by federal law and consists of a 27 member board, appointed by the Governor, 60% of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities or family members of individuals with disabilities. The Council’s purpose in law is to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input on the Committee Substitute to Senate Bill 460 that amends current law relating to educator training programs. The committee substitute adds positive behavior interventions and supports to the proposed teacher instruction in effective strategies for teaching and intervening with students with mental or emotional disorders.

Even though students with disabilities, including those with mental and behavioral health disabilities, represent only 20% of school enrollment, they can account for more than 50% of behavioral incidents. Training in positive behavior interventions and supports will help teachers to recognize and appropriately respond to students with mental or emotional issues without inadvertently reinforcing or escalating the behavior they are trying to reduce.

TCDD provides funding to projects that address a variety of needs and areas of focus across the state and since mid-2008 has provided support to Educational Service Center (ESC) 17 to implement two projects for training on and support for the implementation of positive behavioral interventions and supports. Attached to my testimony is a document about these projects. The ESC 17 Impacting Disproportionality project is being implemented currently in 12 independent school districts across all grade levels: elementary to high school and across the three tiers of behavior concerns (universal, at-risk, and intensive). The project focuses on all students with an emphasis on impacting disproportionality among students of all races and ethnicities.

The ESC 17 Head Start PBIS project focuses on preschool children with developmental disabilities ages 2-5 and has demonstrated decreases in concerns and increases in behavioral strengths. Both projects have demonstrated increases in social emotional development, a more critical assessment of self, other people and situations, and fewer referrals, expulsions and suspensions.

After the Connecticut school shooting national violence prevention researchers and practitioners developed a position statement endorsed by over 100 education and child welfare organizations that supports a balanced approach to preventing violence and protecting students with a variety of efforts to address physical safety, educational practices, and programs that support the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students. CSSB 460 supports these goals.

Thank you for your consideration of CSSB 460 and your service to Texas.

Belinda Carlton
Public Policy Specialist

Attachment: TCDD PBIS Projects