Why Diversity and Equity in Content Matters for Reading Growth

A recent survey asked middle level and high school principals to choose the greatest challenge they face with their students’ literacy development. An overwhelming 63% of respondents cited students who were reading below grade level1. This response is not surprising. In 2019, only 34% of eighth grade students performed at or above the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) proficient level2.

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2021 Digital Principals of the Year Announced

Recognizing extraordinary, tech-savvy school leaders

The education landscape shifted dramatically this past year, with principals everywhere embracing innovation and technology to adapt to their changing circumstances. NASSP is proud to celebrate three principals, whose leadership was needed more than ever. Congratulations to the 2021 Digital Principals of the Year for their work using digital media to improve instruction, student achievement, and their own leadership. We’re excited to share their stories! 


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Connections, Connections, Connections: We All Need Them

We have seen more than ever this year that connections are necessary. We need to be purposeful in giving our students the tools to make sure these connections are meaningful and lasting. The Connections program at Lowery Freshman Center is more than “just a class.” With its focus on building supportive relationships, it is making an impact everywhere on campus.

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Virtual Clubs: Connecting Students During a Challenging Year

“I finally feel like I’m a part of something.” —Seventh grade student in Anime Club

When those words were uttered extemporaneously following an interview with members of the Downingtown Middle School Anime Club, both the club sponsor, Todd Shirley, and I did a double take. That seventh grade student had struggled to make friends and meaningful connections all through their school career. Her statement was a striking validation of our school’s focus on relationships, kindness, and grace throughout an extraordinary year.

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Marketing Your School

When I was in elementary school, my father was a troubleshooter for his company. If there was an issue in a plant in another state, off he would go, and we knew that we would soon be moving to follow. As soon as my parents knew which city we would be relocating to, my mother would begin to research schools, making phone calls and scheduling visits. The company may have decided the general location, but the city and neighborhood would be determined by the research she did into the local school district as well as the individual schools. Today, that information is available with a few clicks on a computer. With this information easily accessible around the globe, it is even more important that principals consider the information available about their school.

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Helping the Nation’s Schools Recover From COVID-19

In March 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which includes $122 billion for the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund. These funds are provided to state educational agencies and school districts to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students. 

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Announcing Our 2021 Advocacy Champion of the Year

Congratulations to Principal Derrick Lawson of Indio High School!

Principal Derrick Lawson of Indio High School in Indio, CA, noticed virtual attendance dropping from 94% to as low as 70% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like hundreds of other schools hit hard by the pandemic, Indio High School’s vulnerable populations were disproportionately suffering. Half the students lived with family members who had gotten sick, a third lacked stable housing, and a quarter had begun working full time or were caring for younger siblings while at home. 

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We Stand Together

As former principals, we know that every day and every stage in a child’s education matters. Students deserve to step into schools—from their first day of preschool through their high school graduation—that foster their learning, nurture their development, and inspire and support them to become their best, most authentic selves. As principals, we know that consistent, quality school leadership is essential in creating these positive school cultures.

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Building a Dual-Credit Program: An $8 Million Bargain for Students

Sale! Four-year degrees: 25% off! 

Get them while they’re hot! Four-year degrees—now available in under three years.

Today’s special! Start college as a sophomore!

If you walked along the sidewalk that runs in front of Homestead High School, it would not be misleading advertising to see these signs hanging in our windows—or to hear someone singing a little ditty about the joy of dual enrollment.

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Student Professional Learning Day: Future-Ready

As we near the end of the school year, I can honestly say that this has been the most challenging year as an educator. Our school has been in person since August, with additional precautions. Like most other schools, we spent a great deal of last summer preparing and planning for a year that had more questions than answers. There was so much uncertainty for the 2020–21 school year, yet I never felt so prepared to start the year because of the planning and organization. 

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Finding the ‘Why’ in School Improvement Plans

At some point in the career of every school leader, we reach a point where we feel like we are spinning our wheels, constantly pivoting to adapt to new changes or finding our community beginning to question the needs and effectiveness of existing initiatives and changes. It is inevitable that strong but elastic organizations will succeed at meeting the needs of stakeholders, while others will either fail to ever actualize their efforts or never reach a level of internal sustainability to avoid becoming stagnant. 

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Equity in Action: Four Steps for School Leaders

“What would you consider to be the most pressing concerns for leaders in education right now? What are the things that keep you up at night?” These were questions posed by my leadership coach in a recent meeting. Like most leaders, I started to run through all the items on my to-do list and the other things weighing on my mind.

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Share Your Thoughts on the New Title IX Rule on Sexual Harassment

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while principals were focused on meeting the immediate needs of their school community, former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos finalized the new Title IX rule on sexual harassment in K–12 schools and institutions of higher education in May 2020. NASSP submitted comments in opposition of the draft rule, which we felt would lessen protections for assault victims and hinder the ability of schools and educators to properly address claims of sexual assault. We also were strongly dismayed that the new rule became effective in August 2020, as school leaders prepared for the beginning of a new school year.

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Leave the Seed, Keep the Flesh: Reflections From Principalship and Motherhood

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few,” says the Zen master Shunryu Suzuki. 

We thought we had it all figured out, like avocado toast. Pre-pandemic, we added pumpkin seeds and feta and Mike’s hot honey and slathered it on Mestemacher rye bread. We made guacamole and avocado quinoa bowls. But there was more to this berry, more to discover, and we had a year of a global pandemic to find truths. 

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Peer Mentoring to Build A Culture of Caring

As school leaders, we often ask ourselves: How can I be sure that I am meeting the needs of every one of my students? How can I ensure no one is forgotten? The kids who are naturally part of a group such as band, sports teams, Student Government Association, or clubs generally have found their niche in the school community. They have found their school family, those individuals who will support them throughout their high school career.  

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Impacting Education Through Advocacy

Education has been disrupted by COVID-19 for over a year, and school leaders are doing all they can to keep their staff and students safe while continuing effective learning. As policymakers at all levels of government weigh how to tackle the full impact on our public institutions, making sure the voices of school leaders are included in those decisions is vital. The 2021 NASSP Virtual Advocacy Conference provides an opportunity for school leaders and others to learn how to effectively influence lawmakers through activism. With the event fast approaching, past conference attendees have been reflecting on their experiences.

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Announcing the 2021 National Assistant Principal of the Year

Congratulations to Chelsea Jennings from Lakeside Junior High School!

Arkansas has the highest rate of adverse childhood experiences in the nation at 60%. Trauma and stress often manifest as behavior problems, and if educators can learn to see these as calls for help and opportunities to teach missing skills, they have the ability to lessen the negative impact and create productive learning environments centered on well-being and safety. For Assistant Principal Chelsea Jennings, that is “the heart of the work I strive daily to implement and nurture.”

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Are You the Next NASSP Board Member?

For the first time ever, the NASSP Board of Directors is opening nominations to all active members in good standing who are currently serving as principals or assistant principals. This unique opportunity is your chance to step forward as a board of directors candidate and be a national advocate for middle level and high school education!

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