National Principals Month

Although we are nearing the end of National Principals Month, there is still time to advocate important issues. For example, when Congress passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government up to December 9, cuts were made across the board to a number of key education programs. When representatives return to Washington, D.C. after the election, new funding discussions will begin.

If Congress wants to see student achievement improve, then they must provide the appropriate funds needed to implement ESSA properly. This includes robust funding for Title II, Part A of ESSA, which provides formula funding to states for the purpose of preparing, training, recruiting, and retaining high-quality teachers, principals, assistant principals, and other school leaders. Currently authorized at $2.295 billion, Title II, Part A of ESSA is still funded well below presequestration levels. Because of this, NASSP asks its members to contact their congressional representatives by participating in the latest action alert, which calls for members of Congress to appropriate no less than $2.295 billion for Title II, Part A funding in FY 2017.

Help NASSP ensure that this section of ESSA is funded at the necessary levels so every child has access to the high-quality teachers and school leaders that can help students grow!

National Principal of the Year

On October 17, NASSP announced that Thomas J. Dodd of Lesher Middle School is the 2017 National Principal of the Year. Dodd has served at Lesher Middle School for 11 years. Upon becoming principal at Lesher Middle School, Dodd personalized the school’s environment by instituting student and staff recognition, while also promoting student participation in academic contests. His hard work and determination has led to Lesher Middle School increasing enrollment from 500 to 770 students, the maximum capacity of the school. NASSP congratulates Dr. Dodd on representing all of the qualities that NASSP and principals everywhere stand for. Find more about the NASSP Principal of the Year program.

ESSA Toolkit

ESSA has provided school leaders with a truly unique opportunity to influence education policy. That is why it is more important than ever for all school leaders to make their voices heard. To help with this, NASSP will be launching its ESSA Toolkit for Principals soon. This toolkit will provide principals with crucial information and tips to help in pushing legislators to effectively implement ESSA. It will also provide many other beneficial elements, including:

  • Fact sheets detailing the important provisions of the law and how they will impact schools
  • Tutorials on how to identify important stories that can help principals illustrate their message
  • Communication templates with sample letters, op-eds, and social media posts
  • Model legislation that can show state legislators how to properly design principal recruitment, preparation, and training strategies

Inside the Beltway

What’s going on in Washington?

On October 21, the Department of Education released new guidance detailing how state educational agencies, local educational agencies, and schools can go about spending Title IV funds in ESSA. Title IV contains the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grants. The purpose of this flexible grant program is to improve students’ academic achievement by increasing the capacity of states, districts, schools, and communities to provide all students with access to:

  • A well-rounded education
  • Improved school conditions for student learning
  • Better use of technology to enhance the academic achievement and digital literacy of all students

Why Should Principals Care?

SSAE grants provide new chances for principals to secure funding for their schools. Not only are these grants flexible enough to garner a number of new funding opportunities for students based on what that student population needs, but they can also be used to promote school leaders’ professional development. The guidance specifically points out that one allowable use of SSAE grants is “supporting high-quality professional development for educators, school leaders, and administrators to personalize learning and improve academic achievement.” ED notes that SSAE funds can also be used in conjunction with other titles of ESSA. For example, these funds could be utilized alongside Title II to provide training and professional development for school personnel to improve areas of personalized learning or other areas that can drive student achievement. Principals also play a unique role in the deciding process of how these grants are spent as well. LEAs must submit an application to their SEA to receive an SSAE grant, but before they do so, they must consult with a number of stakeholders in the school and community on how these dollars could be spent the most effectively. One of the groups LEAs are required to consult with are principals. This allows principals the opportunity to advocate before their LEA and tell them what would be the most beneficial area or program for these funds to be spent that could best serve their students.

In the Press

President Obama Announces Improved Graduation Rates at D.C. High School, ABC News

Last Monday, President Obama delivered a speech at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C., to celebrate high school graduation rates. America’s high school graduation rates rose for the fourth consecutive year as of 2015 and reached a new record high of 83.2 percent. The president went through a number of his administration’s policies that helped get to this point, but also noted that there is still much work to be done to ensure that all students have access to a quality education.

Choosing Indicators of Educational Quality in ESSA, Chiefs for Change

A key piece of ESSA is the flexibility it grants states in determining what factors or indicators it will use to evaluate schools. Chiefs for Change published a new report that analyzes data around a number of potential measures to help states in determining which factors may be the most effective and provide the most accurate results on a school’s performance.

Student Growth and School Effectiveness, Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, argues in a new article that states should be measuring school effectiveness by student growth, not proficiency measures. Petrilli points out that measuring schools by proficiency rates unfairly impacts high-poverty, urban schools, as students in these schools are often more economically disadvantaged. Demographic factors that affect student achievement like this are out of a school’s control and are therefore bad measures for school effectiveness. In August, NASSP sent a letter to Secretary King highlighting support for the inclusion of student growth as a school-quality measure.

Changes for English Language Learners in ESSA, Education Dive

ESSA brings with it a number of changes regarding English language learners (ELL). This piece examines the changes in classifying, testing, and reporting for ELL, and highlights some of the positive changes ESSA makes for those students in comparison with No Child Left Behind.

Examining ESSA’s Non-Academic Indicator, American Youth Policy Forum

American Youth Policy Forum recently published a brief and slides from a presentation it held in late September examining the fifth nonacademic measure that states can use to judge schools. The presentation looks at different factors that data has proven encourages students to have more positive experiences, better relationships, and safer environments in schools. After identifying these factors, the presentation then examined whether these potential indicators could be properly implemented in state accountability systems.

How Illinois Revamped and Improved Principal Preparation, Wallace Foundation

Last week, The Wallace Foundation released a four-part video series detailing how Illinois revamped its principal preparation system. After finding out that large numbers of teachers and other school officials were enrolled in programs only to earn a credential and receive raises rather than actually lead schools as principals, the state decided to make a change. In 2010, Illinois passed a tougher law on principal preparation procedures, which resulted in lowering the number of individuals enrolled in these programs from 7,600 to fewer than 700. This decrease is a positive for schools and students, as those now enrolled in the programs are people who actually want to lead schools and are willing to undergo much more rigorous training to do so.

Breaking Down Equity in ESSA for State Leaders, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

A new report has been released that helps to explain the breakdown of different funding opportunities in ESSA. Pages 10–13 of the document focus specifically on increasing access to effective teachers and school leaders by highlighting how Titles I, II, and III of ESSA can be used to train and retain these individuals. It also provides questions that school leaders should consider answering for their own state legislatures to help them better understand what is necessary to aid in improving principals, and in turn, student outcomes.

K–12 Funding Still Low in Many States, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently found that funding for K–12 schools is still lower in many states than it was before the 2008 financial crisis. It also lays out how hard this state funding decrease has hit local school districts.

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