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Specialized Instructional Support Personnel

The more than 1 million Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP) who work in our nation’s public schools are key to making sure students have the services they need to succeed.
Educator with student

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Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP)—also known as non-classroom educators—work with teachers, school support staff, parents, community members, and other education stakeholders to help students remove learning barriers while examining their individual strengths and talents, interests and insecurities.

They include professionals such as school counselors, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, library media specialists, speech language pathologists and others. Many of these professionals are nationally board certified public school employees in their respective fields.

SISP Included in Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

As defined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (2015), the term ‘specialized instructional support personnel’ means: “school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists; and other qualified professional personnel, such as school nurses, speech language pathologists, and school librarians, involved in providing assessment, diagnosis, counseling, educational, therapeutic, and other necessary services (including related services as that term is defined in section 602 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1401) as part of a comprehensive program to meet student needs.’’

Congress adopted the term with the passage of  ESSA, the reauthorized version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). “Specialized instructional support personnel” replaced “pupil services personnel.” The term was adopted a number of years ago by the National Alliance of Pupil Services Organizations, renamed as the National Alliance of Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (NASISP). 

By finding one term that aptly describes student and related services, advocates are calling for these services to be available to students who need these supports. The term was selected to indicate personnel who have specialized training to support the instructional process, resulting in academic and social/emotional success for students. With this acknowledgment by Congress, educators and other advocates can meet with congressional staff to discuss issues and concerns related to SISP.

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Member Ellen Olsen
It felt different to bargain with the teachers, but it also made sense because we do our work together. We can’t work in silos. At the end of the day, it’s the children getting more services and resources. Who wouldn’t want that?
Quote by: Ellen Olsen, Sign Language Interpreter, Education Minnesota
Librarian leans over seated students at the library who are reading a book

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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.