School of Thought Blog

With content from practicing school leaders and education experts, our School of Thought Blog offers a wealth of information and research on emergent education issues.

Understanding Grieving Children’s ‘Confusing’ Reactions 

Grieving is a personal and distinct experience for every individual. You might have heard the statement before that, “Everyone grieves differently.” However, children’s reactions to the death of a loved one can be particularly puzzling to adults. One reason is that their reactions can vary greatly. So, for adults, it helps to expect and be ready for the unexpected.

Adults are sometimes confused if a grieving child does not behave as expected. For example, sometimes, children appear happy, unaffected, and play as usual. And sometimes, they say angry or unkind things about others or the person who died. But it’s important to understand that after the death of a loved one, children will be experiencing deep and powerful emotions, even if it is not at first clear from the things that they say and do. (more…)

Improving Quality and Reducing Duplicative Assessments Under ESSA

Spring is here, which for students, educators, and parents means testing season has officially begun. In 2015, several states across the country witnessed the growing opt-out movement, where parents are withholding their children from assessments in protest of the Common Core State Standards and the inclusion of student test scores in teacher evaluations, as well as the overbearing standardized testing culture.

Last year in New York, more than 200,000 third through eighth graders sat out of standardized tests, and the movement has shown no signs of slowing down in 2016. In February, the NASSP Board of Directors stated its opposition to state and district opt-out (more…)

Mastering the Master Schedule: Ensuring Equity and Access for All Students

Guest post by Ashanti Bryant Foster

Master Schedule: the two words that usually cause a cringe and instant headache for many educators. The reality is that if you don’t have a firm grasp on the master schedule, it is difficult to understand the movements and ‘flow of traffic’ in your building. One of the reasons I wanted to be involved in scheduling is so I could understand the task inside out, just like discipline, leading collaborative planning, and supporting parent programs. As an administrator, I need to know the ins and outs of all major decisions that impact student achievement. (more…)

Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

Inside the Beltway

What’s happening in Washington?

Last week, U.S. Department of Education Secretary John King appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for a full committee hearing. The topic of the hearing was “ESSA Implementation in States and School Districts: Perspectives from the U.S. Secretary of Education.” The full hearing is available for viewing online.

Why should principals care? (more…)

Advocating for and Celebrating Assistant Principals

This week is National Assistant Principals Week, and we’re celebrating the leaders who make things happen every day behind the scenes for our schools—assistant principals! Assistant principals are often the glue that holds schools together. This is a special week to thank them for everything they do to keep our schools safe and running smoothly, and to ensure the success of each and every student.

The U.S. Congress is also getting in on the celebration as well. On April 14, Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Thomas Carper (D-DE) introduced a resolution to commemorate the week. “Assistant principals play a key role in our education system, and their efforts deserve to be recognized,” said Sen. Perdue. (more…)

Connected Leadership: Empowering Stronger Leaders for Stronger Schools

Guest post by Jared C. Wastler

As an educational leader, I strongly believe that we must not lead from afar—we must engage and connect with our staff, students, community, and colleagues. Think of a leader whom you admire. It is rare that you would describe such an individual saying, “he talked a good game but never really followed through.”

Jimmy Casas, Principal at Bettendorf High School in Iowa, likes to say, “you get what you model.” For us to be effective educational leaders, (more…)

Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

NASSP Holds Student Briefing on Capitol Hill

The newly founded NASSP Student Leadership Advisory Committee held its first public event last Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Two student members, a teacher, and a principal were featured at the briefing titled “Technology in Schools: Student, Teacher, and Principal Perspectives.” Check out the Storify of the event featuring tweets and photos taken by committee members. Stay tuned to the School of Thought blog for more perspectives on the event from committee members.

Inside the Beltway (more…)

Get Ready to Celebrate National Assistant Principals Week

Celebrate your assistant principals’ successes during National Assistant Principals Week, April 11–15! This week recognizes the contributions of assistant principals to the success of students, teachers, parents, and school communities across the United States.

While the roles and responsibilities may depend on the individual school settings, assistant principals are essential to establishing a positive learning environment that ensures each student and adult is known and valued.

NASSP celebrated early by hosting all of the State Assistant Principals of the Year during the Ignite ’16 National Principals Conference in Orlando, Florida, February 25–27. (more…)

Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

Center for American Progress Event Features NASSP Member

Richard Loeschner, an NASSP member and principal of Breakthrough School Brentwood High School in Brentwood, NY, was featured last week at a Center for American Progress event on “Harnessing the Talent of DACA and Unauthorized Students at the K–12 Level.” The event focused on the patchwork of policies and practices that unauthorized students face in K–12 schools and the varying levels of support they receive from schools that might not recognize their unique challenges. Mr. Loeschner’s school has found particular success in raising the achievement of immigrant students and was featured on the event’s panel discussion. A recording of the event can now be viewed online. NASSP’s Associate Director of Advocacy David Chodak was also in attendance. (more…)

Schools Succeed When Breakfast is Served After the Bell

Guest post by Mieka Sanderson

Secondary school principals across the nation are rallying around a new take on the School Breakfast Program: breakfast after the bell. The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) released a report in November 2015, School Breakfast After the Bell: Equipping Students for Academic Success, which showed that 87 percent of principals who implemented the program believe other principals should explore launching a similar program. Echoing the results of the elementary school principals’ report FRAC published in November 2013, implementing a Breakfast after the Bell program in secondary schools has proven to be a superior alternative to the traditional before-school breakfast program. (more…)

4 Tips to Share with Students Looking for “The Right College Fit”

Last week, the National Honor Societies hosted its third college admission planning webinar of this academic year. The webinar focused on “The ‘Right’ College Fit” and was designed to help students choose a college that’s best for them, especially when selecting among several options due to multiple acceptances.

In addition to sharing the link to the archived webinar on the National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society websites, school leaders are also encouraged to share these top four insights from the webinar panelists with their students, student program advisers, and counselors. (more…)

Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

Advocacy Continues FY17 Appropriations

On Thursday, NASSP, along with more than 150 national, state, and local organizations, sent a letter asking Congress to fund the School Leader Recruitment and Support program at the level requested by President Obama. Thank you to all 302 principals who sent a combined 993 personal messages to their representatives and senators through the Principal’s Legislative Action Center. It is not too late to chime in as well! The House has a deadline of Thursday, March 24, for letters and requests.

NASSP has also been involved in advocating for robust funding for Title IV, Part A, of ESSA and has been meeting with congressional offices this week. (more…)

New CTE and High School Redesign Bill Introduced in Senate

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced a new bipartisan bill on Thursday called the CTE Excellence and Equity Act. The act is intended to amend Title II of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to support innovative approaches to career and technical education, and redesign the high school experience for students. The goal is for students to engage in real-world, relevant education through partnerships with businesses and higher education so that they enroll in postsecondary education without the need for remediation and with a set of 21st-century skills. (more…)

Using Technology to Empower Students

There remains very little debate about whether students should use technology in learning. If there remains a doubt, let the adult without a computer on their desk—or in their pocket or laptop bag—cast the first stone. Technology is ubiquitous, and schools should be no exception.

A massive question remains, however, about how kids should use that technology. Sadly, some schools leverage new tools to streamline the same old methods of learning. And not surprisingly, these schools are seeing little effect on their students’ achievement. To make the most of our investment, we need to use technology to empower students to lead their own learning. (more…)

Advocacy Update

Apply for the CTE Makeover Challenge

Your high school could be eligible for $20,000 in cash and additional in-kind prizes to start a makerspace in your building! The U.S. Department of Education invites schools to enter the CTE Makeover Challenge by submitting a design for a CTE makerspace. All schools will gain access to a six-week CTE Makeover Bootcamp that will provide resources and training in makerspace design and planning. Up to 10 schools will receive the $20,000 cash prize. You can view the notice in the Federal Register here. (more…)

Progress Made on Closing the Digital Divide

As all principals know, changes in how the world connects has made a significant impact on the way we organize school records, communicate with parents, and collaborate with other educators. But it has perhaps most greatly affected how students conduct research and complete group projects and other school assignments, which puts students who don’t have broadband internet at home at a great disadvantage. Many are calling this new digital divide the “homework gap,” and ultimately it can impact their academic success.

As a member of the Education and Library Networks Coalition (EdLiNC), NASSP previously submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (more…)

Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

NASSP Position Statements

The NASSP Board of Directors has stated its intent to adopt position statements on A-F School Grading Systems and Online Learning. Following a 30-day public comment period, the board will vote to approve the position statements at its next meeting in May. If you have any comments or suggestions, please submit them to Amanda Karhuse, director of advocacy, at [email protected] by Thursday, March 24.

Inside the Beltway (more…)

Share Your Thoughts on Proposed Position Statements

The NASSP Board of Directors has stated its intent to adopt two new position statements on A-F school grading systems and online learning. The position statements outline guiding principles for NASSP’s advocacy and recommendations to federal, state, and local policymakers. Following a 30-day public comment period, the board will vote to approve the position statements at its next meeting in May. You can view summaries of the statements and link to them in their entirety below.

A-F School Grading Systems (more…)

Respect and Compassion for All Students

Guest post by Brad Seamer

Over the course of my administration career I have learned that my political views and personal beliefs come second to the needs of my students. Twenty-plus years in education have taught me that every student is unique, and each student carries with them a personal story that defines them. For teachers and principals to be successful in their jobs they must learn these stories and use this information to provide the best learning experience possible for all of their students.

Students should be able to enter school free of judgment from school officials and their peers. (more…)

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