The “65% solution,” often presented as an alternative to a funding increase, refers to a policy that aims to shift education spending away from administrative costs toward classroom expenses, so that eventually at least 65 cents of every dollar spent by a school district directly reaches the classroom. Currently, the national average is just above 61%. (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2003).
Florida was the first state to adopt an A-F school rating system as part of its A+ Education Plan in 1999. Since that time, 15 other states have implemented a similar model when redesigning their school accountability systems to receive the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility waivers from the U.S. Department of Education. It should be noted, however, that Virginia passed a law to repeal its A-F school rating system in 2015, and legislation has been introduced in other states to make major modifications to their systems as well. The most recent version of ESEA, the Every Student Succeeds Act, provides flexibility for states to design their own school accountability systems without federal coercion, so we expect this to be a hot topic in the coming years.
Since the days of Horace Mann, who first captured the concept of Education as the Great Equalizer, public schools have been regarded as the institutions where the effects of social, economic and racial inequalities are eliminated. Until the later part of the 20th century, the history of segregation made this charge a challenge of immense proportions. Since then, however, the expectation that public schools level the playing field for all students has been reaffirmed and was, in fact, presented as a major objective of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Numeracy, also known as quantitative literacy, refers to a set of mathematical and advanced problem-solving skills that are necessary to succeed in a society increasingly driven by data. Quantitative and math literacy means more than simply the ability to perform mathematical computations and this has applications in all areas of life.
Since the first charter school opened in Minnesota in 1992, the movement has grown at an astounding pace. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools announced in 2017 that more than 6,900 charter schools now educate more than three million children across the nation. Over half of all charter schools are concentrated in just five states—Arizona, California, Florida, Ohio, and Texas—and are located primarily in urban areas. Although all charter schools are public, there are variations in their management. Some charter schools are founded by educators; others are established by nonprofit organizations, universities, and some by for-profit charter management organizations.
Efforts to improve the academic achievement of all students and prepare each and every student for college and career readiness have rendered past methods of sorting and comparing students obsolete. School leaders, parents, and school boards are concerned that limited access to advanced classes and unevenness of school grading policies could lead to large differences in class rank—and hurt student prospects for admission. As such, schools have increasingly sought to stop reporting class rank.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows wide variety among state performance standards and between state and NAEP standards. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act, aims to educate all students to 100% proficiency by 2014, but has never clearly defined what proficiency means as a national standard. This lack of clarity has resulted in a wide range of standards that have led to varying levels of rigor, definitions of proficiency, and assessments.
Competency-Based Education, also known as Competency-Based Learning, is a K-12 and higher education practice that provides flexibility in awarding credits for academic courses. Instead of using a time-based system via Carnegie units, CBE employs a learning-based system that awards students with credits once they demonstrate mastery of content in academic courses or through accredited out of school experiences.
Research demonstrates that a high-quality, literacy-rich environment is an important prerequisite for academic success—this is especially true in early childhood when children are developing the foundation upon which future learning is built. Research also shows that low-income children are less likely to have access to literacy-rich environments.
Corporal punishment is a discipline method in which a supervising adult deliberately inflicts pain upon a student (typically using a paddle) in response to a student’s unacceptable behavior and/or inappropriate language. One hundred years after its abolition in most industrialized countries, corporal punishment is still used in many U.S. schools as a disciplinary method against disobedient or noncompliant students.
Students of color (black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, or American Indian/Alaska Native) made up 47 percent of public school students nationwide in 2014, and the National Center for Education Statistics predicts this population will increase to 56 percent by 2024. In addition, 13.7 million or 19 percent of children under age 18 were in families living in poverty. Of that amount, the poverty rate was highest among black and American Indian/Alaska Native children (34 percent for both groups), followed by Hispanic (28 percent), and white and Asian children (11 percent for both groups).
Education has seen an increase in the use of a variety of technologies to help promote access, new learning opportunities, and new teaching styles for educators and students. However, the increased use in technology has led to new challenges as well, most notably the inability of some student groups to access or most effectively use digital tools and resources to accelerate their learning. Commonly referred to as the digital divide, many groups of students are often at a disadvantage compared to their peers due to their lack of access through either digital equipment or reliable broadband access.
In 2017, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. This occurred in response to over 42,000 deaths from opioid overdoses in 2016 alone. The number of Americans abusing opioids in 2016 was still much higher, with over 11 million misusing these drugs and more than 2 million individuals suffering from an addiction to either prescription or illicit opioids.
In the 2015–16 school year, only 20 percent of public school teachers identified as individuals of color, which is a 4 percent increase from a similar survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education in 2000. That same year, 22 percent of public school principals were individuals of color, including 11 percent who identified as black and 8 percent who identified as Hispanic. Recent reports also indicate that almost half of America’s schools do not employ even one teacher of color, meaning that many students are taught and led by educators who do not share similar backgrounds or experiences.
School leaders—who are also leaders in their communities and models of leadership for teachers and students—must maintain standards of exemplary professional conduct.
Formula grants serve as the primary means to distribute federal education funding to states, districts, and schools and are mostly restricted simply by eligibility. Foundational formula grants in K–12 education include Title I grants for low-income schools, state grants that serve students with disabilities under the IDEA, and grants that support the professional development of principals and other educators under Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants. Competitive grants, on the other hand, are restricted by criteria that applicants must meet and are, by nature, only awarded to a select group of states or districts.
In 2015, President Obama signed into law the newest rewrite of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), renamed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The signing of ESSA marked only the second increase in funding, when adjusting for inflation, on per pupil expenditures in the previous four years (Cornman et al., 2018). Even with this increase, education is still far behind where it should be in terms of allocations. In 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau found that 29 states were still providing less total school funding per student than they were in 2008 (Leachman et al., 2017).
BE IT RESOLVED THAT: NASSP recognizes the GED credential as a viable measure of high school completion for students who do not receive a regular high school diploma. However, recent research studies have concluded that individuals who receive a GED have economic and social outcomes similar to high school dropouts. THEREFORE, the Board’s position is that the GED is not equivalent to a high school diploma for the purpose of calculating graduation rates.
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2001, expanded testing requirements and accountability provisions based on assessment outcomes. The goal of increased assessment and accountability in NCLB was to improve student achievement, reduce the achievement gap, and align instruction to academic standards.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which is the most recent version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, recognizes the importance of school leadership and its impact on school and student performance—however, it greatly reduced the federal role in education. Where federal policies once required states to develop evaluation systems for teachers and principals that included data on student growth measures as a “significant factor,” ESSA transferred the authority for creating educator evaluation systems to the states.
During the past decade, the rapid development of internet technologies and the increasing use of social networking websites and cellphones have created both opportunities and challenges for secondary school leaders. Consider the following findings from recent studies:
In this age of increased accountability, research has taught us that school leaders are crucial to improving instruction and raising student achievement. In fact, The Wallace Foundation has found that school leadership “is second only to teaching among school-related factors in its impact on student learning.” Effective school leaders focus their work on the core issues of teaching and learning and school improvement. Many school districts face a severe shortage of educational leaders due to many factors, including retirement and principals choosing to leave the profession due to job pressures and lack of incentives. Additionally, many potential leaders are choosing not to apply for openings, thus creating a shallow applicant pool.
The United States Surgeon General reports that smoking remains the leading cause of death and disease in our nation. Every day, nearly 3,200 young people under the age of 18 try smoking for the first time, and an estimated 2,100 young people become daily cigarette smokers according to research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014. Approximately 20 percent of all high school students and 7 percent of all middle level students have reported using some type of tobacco product. Research conducted for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in 2008 found that children are three times more sensitive to tobacco advertising than adults and more likely to be influenced to smoke by cigarette marketing than they are by their peers.
International tests, such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), compare achievement data from students in the United States with that of students in other countries. PISA is an international standardized test that was developed jointly by participating countries and is administered to 15-year-old students. TIMSS compares data on the mathematics and science achievement of fourth-and eighth-grade students in the United States with that of students in other countries. Recent test results have shown a decline in the performance and ranking of U.S. students relative to their overseas peers. But the United States has never fared well on international comparisons of student achievement in math or science and in 1964, actually ranked 11th of 12 countries participating in the first major international study of student achievement in math (Loveless, 2011). Clearly, this ranking proved nothing about global economic competitiveness or future economic growth.
A U.S. Surgeon General report indicates that one in five children and adolescents will face a significant mental health condition during their school years. Mental health disorders affecting children and adolescents can range from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to autism, depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and others. Students suffering from these conditions face significant barriers to learning and are less likely to graduate from high school. Key responsibilities of school leaders regarding this issue include creating a safe and nurturing school environment, supporting the physical and mental health of children, fostering their social and emotional well-being, and being prepared to address teen suicide through effective communication and support. As leaders work to meet these responsibilities, they face an array of challenges related to mental health
Today’s students have more online learning options than ever before, especially at the high school level. The November 2014 annual report of the Evergreen Education Group revealed that 300,000 students attended online schools in the 2013–14 school year, with nearly 750,000 students taking some part of their education online.
State policies vary throughout the country, with some specifically allowing or prohibiting opt-outs, while others have no consequences in place if students do not participate in mandatory assessments. Many states do allow exemptions in cases of physical disability, mental health issues, or other emergencies, and two states (Oregon and Pennsylvania) allow religious exemptions. States are also considering new legislation requiring school leaders to notify parents of their right to opt out of the assessments. However, the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 requires schools and districts to maintain a 95 percent participation rate on state assessments, and states are required to include this as a component of their school accountability systems.
Each day countless students come to school, each with their own set of unique gifts, abilities, and challenges. Recent data has found that students living in poverty often face far more challenges than their peers. According to the National Center of Education Statistics, 19 percent of individuals under 18 lived in poverty during the 2015–16 school year. Furthermore, 24.4 percent of students attended high-poverty schools during that same year. The data also show that higher percentages of Hispanic, African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Pacific Islander students attended high-poverty schools than white students, underscoring that poverty is also an issue of equity that must be addressed.
Although much attention has been paid to the national graduation and dropout rates, those discussions obscure another population: students who obtain their high school diplomas but are not prepared to succeed in postsecondary education or the workforce. Those students are the near dropouts who earned enough credits to graduate, but have backgrounds similar to the 1.2 million students whom high schools “lose” annually.
According to the Institute for Education Statistics, one in five principals working in schools in the 2011-12 school year left their school by the 2012-13 school year. Additional research shows that one out of every two principals is not retained beyond their third year of leading a school. School leaders who are retiring, transferring schools, or pursuing new opportunities within the education sector are not being replaced by enough qualified candidates. As a result, many school districts across the country report principal vacancies and a serious lack of qualified applicants to replace them.
Research conducted by the Wallace Foundation in 2004 found that effective school leadership is second only to direct classroom instruction among school-based factors in raising student achievement—and principal impact is greatest in low-achieving, high-poverty, and minority schools. Principals also improve teaching and learning through their ability to shape a vision of academic success for all students; create a safe and supportive school climate; cultivate leadership among teachers and other school staff; improve instruction; and manage people, data, and processes to foster school improvement.
Proponents of privatization of educational services believe a private organization or business is sometimes better equipped to improve teaching and learning, and is most always more cost effective. The trend to privatize instructional services has occurred in traditional classrooms as well as in after-school, alternative, and tutoring programs. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states can reserve 3 percent of their Title I funds for direct student services (DSS), in addition to the 7 percent set-aside reserved for school improvement activities that can also be used for DSS. Providers of DSS maybe nonprofit or for-profit organizations. The process for providing DSS under ESSA is as follows (Chiefs for Change, 2016)
In the ongoing effort to improve education for all U.S. students, some policymakers have proposed government funding for parents to send their children to a private school. The most common proposed model is a direct voucher, which has recently taken on more subtle forms such as tax credits and tax-sheltered education savings plans.
In discussions to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and other federal initiatives such as Race to the Top and the ESEA flexibility waivers, legislators have focused on the impact educators have on improving student achievement. A report commissioned by the Wallace Foundation in 2010 found that leadership is second only to classroom instruction as an influence on student learning.
Despite wide disagreements about the role of schools and even the goals of education in our society, there is a growing consensus across a broad political and ideological spectrum that each student must graduate from high school prepared to meet high standards of college or career readiness. The past few years have introduced a movement among states and districts to eliminate barriers to college access and increase student preparation and college attendance.
Of the 50.7 million students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in fall 2017, 24.1 million were white, 7.7 million were Black, 13.6 million were Hispanic, 2.8 million were Asian/Pacific Islander, half a million were American Indian/Alaska Native, and 2 million were two or more races. The percentage of students who were white decreased from 61 to 48 percent between fall 2000 and fall 2017, and it is projected to continue decreasing to 44 percent by fall 2029. In many urban areas, a majority of students of color attend public schools where at least 75 percent of students are from low-income families.
In recent years, the dropout rate in U.S. schools, currently estimated at 20% overall and overrepresented among low income, Black, and Latino students, has gained a great deal of attention, because of its impact on the students and on the communities in which they live. Research indicates that students who drop out of schools are more likely to be unemployed, earn dramatically lower salaries when they do work, and are more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system.
Learning occurs best in an environment that nurtures each individual to live the shared norms, values, and beliefs to grow in a safe, caring, and high-performing school community. A school leader’s first responsibility is to foster such a climate, and parents, policymakers, and communities continually affirm that preeminent priority.
Time out of school has huge implications for student achievement and future success. “Being suspended even once in ninth grade is associated with a twofold increase in the likelihood of dropping out of high school, from 16% for those not suspended to 32% for those suspended just once” (Losen & Martinez, 2013, p. 1). Certain discipline measures also funnel youth into the juvenile justice system and increase their risk for future incarceration. While schools have reported an overall decrease in the number of suspensions and expulsions since the 2011–12 school year, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights indicates that huge disparities remain in school discipline among the nation’s middle level and high schools.
As interest in school accountability has increased, policymakers, media outlets, and corporate leaders have determined that school ratings or rankings are an effective and necessary tool for parents, students, and other stakeholders to determine whether schools are performing to expectations. And those rating have only proliferated since schools have been required to publish report cards for the public, making available more data on individual student outcomes.
Learning is most effective when schools are safe and welcoming environments for all students and adults. Principals know that their first responsibility is to foster such a culture. School staff, parents, community members, and policymakers continue to affirm that priority. Principals also know that SROs can play an integral role in ensuring the physical safety of a school building and all inside, and these SROs can be an important resource to welcome, counsel, and mentor students. The best SROs, like teachers and administrators, are great educators first.
NASSP wants to ensure that schools offer a welcoming and engaging environment designed for 21st-century learning. This includes flexible spaces for personalized learning and small group work; makerspaces that encourage collaboration and project-based, cross-disciplinary learning; facilities for students to pursue athletics and performing arts; and a greater emphasis on technology and learning beyond the school day. Many schools have not yet achieved all of these goals, and unfortunately, others have been found harmful to the students, educators, parents, and community members they serve.
Almost all middle level and high schools in the United States offer a number of student activities ranging from athletics, music, and drama to honor societies, clubs, service learning, and student councils. Some activities also include core subjects like mathematics and English when students attend them for remediation purposes. Although often termed “extracurricular” activities, they provide students with important developmental opportunities not always afforded during the regular school period. Activities can be classified into four distinct categories:
Data-driven decision making has become a tenet of high-performing schools and is essential to transforming teaching and learning in the classroom. The Data Quality Campaign states that “data is one of the most powerful tools to inform, engage, and create opportunities for students along their education journey.” While using data to personalize learning helps increase student retention, it also serves to narrow achievement gaps and assists all students to be college and career ready upon high school graduation.
As a result of the tragic shootings of recent years, many schools and communities have turned to student profiling in an effort to identify, at an early stage, those students who are most likely to initiate such violent acts. Profiling attempts to identify students likely to be violent based on traits, characteristics, and/or behavior (e.g., detachment from school, unusual interest in sensational violence, turbulent relationships with parents). Despite research, including that performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, student profiling has been unable to identify traits and characteristics that can reliably distinguish violent students from other students.
While the formal or informal leadership roles of teachers may vary in different schools and districts, teacher leadership is broadly defined in the 2011 Teacher Leader Model Standards as “the process by which teachers, individually or collectively, influence their colleagues, principals, and other members of the school community to improve teaching and learning practices with the aim of increased student learning and achievement.”
Research is conclusive that teachers are the most important school-related factor in student learning—with school leaders following as a close second. Nonetheless, teacher quality varies across the country, and the Center for American Progress finds that students of color and low-income students are less likely to be taught by a highly effective teacher.
News reports and research released by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) in 2016 point to a growing teacher shortage nationwide that is “reaching crisis proportions” in some fields and locations. The supply and demand estimates contained in the LPI report predicted a shortage of approximately 64,000 teachers in the 2015-16 school year. However, data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics showed that the percentage of public high schools that reported difficult-to-staff teaching positions (i.e., positions principals reported were very difficult to fill or could not be filled in a specific subject area) were lower in every subject area over a 10-year period. Similarly, the percentage of middle schools reporting at least one difficult-to-staff teaching position dropped from 48 percent in 1999-2000 to 17 percent in 2011-12. The president of the National Council on Teacher Quality has also challenged the data in the LPI report, noting that the demand data presume student-to-teacher class size ratios to decrease from the current average of 16.1:1 to 15.3:1. Using the current average, “the shortage disappears entirely.”
There is consensus that we need to improve overall student achievement in the United States. To help teachers successfully fulfill their role in this endeavor, effective teacher supervision and evaluation systems that inform teacher professional development and improve instruction are essential; however, disagreement over what those systems should measure remains, and some researchers caution against relying on student test scores as a valid metric (Baker et al, 2010).
According to the American Psychological Association, “transgender” is an umbrella term that incorporates differences in gender identity wherein one’s assigned biological sex doesn’t match their felt identity (American Psychological Association, 2015). While transgender students are a small percentage of the overall student population in middle and high schools, there seems to be an increasing number of children transitioning in this age group and a greater awareness of transgender issues among principals.
The purpose of this position statement is to highlight how trauma and adverse childhood experiences affect student learning and school climate and to offer policy recommendations to help support educators as they seek to create trauma-informed schools. Download (.pdf) The most recent data from Child Trends indicate that 45 percent of children in the United States have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) that could be trauma-inducing such as abuse or neglect, violence, discrimination, bullying, natural disasters, or death of a loved one. However, the two most common ACEs are economic hardship and the separation or divorce of parent or guardian. Nationwide, 61 percent of black children and 51 percent of Hispanic children have experienced at least one ACE compared to only 40 percent of their white peers.
To help school leaders comply with federal and state immigration laws and ensure that the undocumented students they serve have access to the same supports and educational opportunities as all students. Download (.pdf) Although it is difficult to get an accurate picture of the immigrant population in the United States, researchers estimate that 1.09 million undocumented children and youth are now living in the country. In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court found in Plyer vs. Doe that because undocumented children are illegally in the United States through no fault of their own, they are entitled to the same K–12 educational opportunities that states provide to children who are citizens or legal residents. For this reason, U.S. public schools may not deny or discourage enrollment to any school-age children, regardless of their immigration status. In addition, such students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals, special education services, and school-sponsored events and activities.
To determine the efficacy of the use of data from student test scores, particularly in the form of Value-Added Measures (VAMs), to evaluate and make key personnel decisions about classroom teachers. Currently, a number of states are either adopting or have adopted new or revamped teacher evaluation systems, which are based in part on data from student test scores in the form of value-added measures (VAMs). Some states mandate that up to 50 percent of the teacher evaluation must be based on data from student test scores. States and school districts are using the evaluation systems to make key personnel decisions about retention, dismissal, and compensation of teachers and principals.