While withholding an official position on Senator Harkin’s long-awaited ESEA reauthorization bill until after the Committee markup, NASSP and NAESP are pleased to see Senator Harkin (D-IA) make key changes to the bill from the first draft released last week to the second draft that was released on Monday and is now being considered in Committee markup.
In a joint letter sent October 20 to Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Enzi (R-WY) and other Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee members, NASSP and NAESP highlight key areas in Title I and Title II of Sen. Harkin’s revised bill that strengthens support for principals.
In Title I:
- The move to an accountability system where states may rely on student growth to measure academic achievement along with multiple measures to emphasize higher-order thinking in place of the one-size-fits-all accountability system established using Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind
- Adoption of college-and career-ready standards and the development of standards for English language proficiency to better support English language learners
- Continuing the practice of disaggregating data for subgroup populations
- Listening to our repeated concerns about the prescriptive school improvement models that require principal replacement through giving the option of a waiver that would not necessitate firing the principal
- NASSP thanks the Senators for strengthening support for secondary schools through the Improving Secondary Schools Program in Title I Part B and the increased focus on our nation’s “dropout factories” to require their inclusion in a state’s school improvement list.
In Title II:
- Recognizing the importance of school leaders through stronger provisions for principal professional development
- NAESP thanks Senators Harkin and Enzi for strengthening coordination of early elementary grade activities with early childhood programs (p-3 alignment), and the provision for professional development between early childhood educators and elementary educators in Title II.
- The 2-5% set-aside for principal professional development in Part A, since the only section of ESEA that provided professional development exclusively for principals has been largely ignored by states and districts. Principals applaud the change in law to ensure that states and local districts direct funds expressly for principal professional development.
- Eliminating the requirement for states and districts to develop teacher and principal evaluation systems according to a comprehensive set of federally determined criteria, and moving those requirements to the voluntary Teacher Incentive Fund program and as an allowable use of Title II funds. States and local districts have just begun to implement principal evaluation systems under programs such as Race to the Top. Additional time for states and local districts to gather information and establish best practices from the field is needed. The bill rightfully places the evaluation activities in a more appropriate competitive program to continue to build the foundation of research and evidence, as well as gain meaningful input from principals on effective evaluation.
NAESP and NASSP stand united in support of our nation’s principals for the swift reauthorization of ESEA, and thank Senators Harkin and Enzi for the provisions listed above in Sen. Harkin’s revised bill. These provisions will help all principals to better lead their schools, which will in turn help all students to succeed.
As always, NASSP Government Relations staff will keep you updated on ESEA reauthorization as the Committee markup proceeds.