Reston, VA – The American Federation of School Administrators, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals–representing the nation’s 120,000 school leaders–issued the following statement on the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) release of guidance on Title II, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):

Our organizations thank ED for its uncompromised support for school leaders in the new guidance for highlighting the ability for SEAs to use federal funds for principal professional development under ESSA. “…We strongly encourage each SEA to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities to support principals and devote a significant portion of its State activities funds to improving school leadership,” the guidance states, “and in doing so consider its flexibility to reserve an additional 3 percent of Title II, Part A LEA subgrants for State activities that support principals or other school leaders.” Principals will surely bring this crucial endorsement to state policymakers to encourage further support for principal development. After years of tireless advocacy by our organizations, this well-timed guidance is the perfect way for ED to wish the nation’s principals a Happy National Principals Month this October, and we will continue to explore additional ways to improve school leadership under ESSA at the October 13 Capitol Hill briefing.

The guidance faithfully honors the intent of Congress in drafting ESSA, which also clarifies school leader as “a principal, assistant principal, or the designated school official responsible for the daily managerial and instructional leadership inside the school building.” These specific provisions are complemented by recognition throughout the document of the crucial role principals play in raising student achievement. The guidance prominently states, “Effective principals, assistant principals, and other school leaders are essential to school success, particularly in schools with large numbers of students from low-income families and minority students. Strong principals attract teachers with great potential for success, support the ongoing professional learning of teachers, and retain excellent teachers.” These comments echo the results of more than a decade of research by the Wallace Foundation, which reveals that leadership is second only to instruction in school-based factors that affect student learning. In addition, the foundation could not identify a single case of sustained school turnaround without strong, effective leadership. We applaud ED for its support of the nation’s principals and we look forward to our continued work in implementing ESSA.

About AFSA
The American Federation of School Administrators is the exclusive union for administrators, professionals and supervisors advocating for excellence and equity in all of our schools, workplaces and communities. AFSA members are leaders in their schools and communities and are charged with the privilege and responsibility of helping to mold our nation’s students into successful, mindful individuals. As school leaders, AFSA members are constantly advocating for better public schools and systems of education. AFSA members are active in the labor movement and proudly stand in solidarity with all trade unionists and school administrators.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 36 countries around the world. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils.

Principals are the primary catalysts for creating lasting foundations for learning. Since 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) has been the leading advocate for elementary and middle level principals in the United States and worldwide. NAESP advances the profession by developing policy, advancing advocacy and providing professional development and resources for instructional leadership, including specialized support and mentoring for early career principals. Key focus areas include pre-K-3 education, school safety, technology and digital learning, and effective educator evaluation. For more information about NAESP, please visit NAESP administers the National Principals Resource Center, the American Student Council Association, and the President’s Education Awards & American Citizenship Awards Programs.