What Can We Expect in the 2023 Legislative Sessions?


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With new legislative sessions beginning, we can learn what education policy trends potentially await in the 2023 sessions by looking at which bills were enacted in 2022 and what early legislation has already been introduced.

The top three issues policymakers addressed in 2022 related to teachers, student physical and mental health, and state K-12 funding. Below, we expand on what we saw last year and what we expect to happen in 2023.


In 2022, legislatures worked to expand and maintain their teacher workforces through bills that addressed teacher pipelines through recruitment and retention, expanding and updating certification and licensure requirements, and enhancing teacher compensation packages. Creating alternate pathways to access a teaching license was a popular approach to certification and licensure bills. For example, Kentucky H.B. 277 created an opportunity for a university and a school district to create an expedited pathway to earn a teaching license. Other approaches included creating new license types, expanding the requirements for initial licensure and making it easier for an out-of-state teacher to transfer their license like in Alaska S.B. 20.

To recruit and retain more teachers, states like Georgia with H.B. 385 implemented legislation that would allow retired teachers to rejoin the workforce without impacting their retirement benefits. States also continued to ease entry barriers into the teacher workforce by supporting loan repayment awards to teachers and scholarships for students seeking degrees in teaching. For example, Nebraska L.B. 1218 will grant up to $5,000 per year for up to five years of loan forgiveness to eligible teachers. We also saw states begin to implement Grow-Your-Own Programs, which recruit potential teachers locally by training school staff and high school students to gain teacher certifications. Additionally, we know that total compensation impacts a teacher’s decision to stay in the classroom; likely because of this, we saw states implement one-time bonuses and increases in minimum salaries.

While the bills passed in 2022 are instructive for anticipating future trends, this year’s new bills also give a sense for legislation coming in 2023. South Carolina S. 295 would increase the minimum teacher salary to require that teachers be paid the national average teacher salary instead of the southeastern average. Washington S.B. 5180 would adopt the interstate teacher mobility compact, which enables teachers to have license reciprocity with other participating states. Kentucky S.B. 49 declares a state of emergency in recruiting and retaining teachers and expands alternative pathways to certifications.

Student Physical and Mental Health

In 2022, policymakers and local education agencies (LEAs) sought to address students’ physical and mental health through increased access to school-based health services, mental health training and expanding access to in-school meals. Community schools were one approach to increase access to health services along with allowing designated, contracted medical professionals to operate in schools.

Policymakers primarily addressed students’ health concerns through hiring additional school counselors, school nurses, school psychologists and social workers. Mental health awareness, education and training for students and staff were also key components in states’ efforts to reverse troubling mental health trends that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Louisiana enacted H.B. 981, which requires LEAs to provide age-appropriate instruction on mental health. States such as Vermont with S. 100 enacted nutrition legislation to expand access to school meals either through universal school meal programs or by requiring certain LEAs to participate in the federal community eligibility provision.

So far in 2023, Colorado’s H.B. 23-1003 would establish a mental health assessment program for students in grades six through 12. We may see other states adopt legislation that supports students’ physical and mental health too.

K-12 Funding

School funding is often top of mind for policymakers and education practitioners. In addition to allocating the historic influx of $189 billion in federal ESSER funding provided to states and LEAs, states also made reforms to how they provide funding to LEAs through funding formula modifications and changes to student counts.

States took different approaches to reform their funding formulas. Tennessee enacted H.B. 2143 that overhauled their 30-year-old formula with a new student-centered approach. Other states left their formula intact and made reforms to specific elements of it, such as increasing the base per-pupil funding allocation or providing additional funding to students who use special education services. States also made changes to how they counted students for funding purposes as LEAs across the country face student enrollment declines.

So far during the legislative session, Montana’s H.B. 15 would increase the per-pupil allotment for elementary, junior high and high school students, which may mean other states will be turning their attention to K-12 funding issues.

You can follow along and see which of these topics — and surely many others — trend over the coming months using our State Education Policy Tracking tool. We also track the Governors’ State of the State addresses, which is another place you can learn about what might be coming in this legislative session.

Author profile
Policy Researcher at Education Commission of the States | cjamieson@ecs.org
As a policy researcher, Carlos focuses on many issues related to K-12 education. Prior to joining Education Commission of the States, Carlos was an elementary school physical education and health teacher. Carlos earned a master’s degree in physical education from Teacher’s College and is currently pursuing his Ed.D from Howard University in education leadership and policy.
Author profile

As a policy researcher, Lauren provides quality research on a variety of education topics. Prior to joining Education Commission of the States, Lauren earned a master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Michigan. Before attending graduate school, Lauren spent four years teaching and three years working with a community-based neighborhood center in Denver. Lauren strongly believes in the importance of creating education policies that allow all children to excel.

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