Weekly Update-January 27, 2012

On January 27, 2012, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


NASSP Releases Statement on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

“We call on the President to renew his pressure on Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and fix what is not working for all schools in No Child Left Behind. While the current law did some good in highlighting the achievement gap, the law’s high-stakes testing and onerous AYP provisions do little to reduce the gap. If education is indeed to become our national mission, the commitment must begin with a fairer and more flexible federal law.” Read the rest of NASSP’s statement here.

President Obama’s FY 2013 Budget to Be Released Monday, February 13

President Obama will lay out his FY 2013 budget proposal on February 13, which will reflect his priorities for spending for the next fiscal year. NASSP is actively involved in the Committee for Education Funding, a coalition of over 90 education organizations that advocates for adequate federal funding, and that publishes and distributes on the Hill a budget response book (in response to the President’s budget) outlining the conditions and needs for various federal programs, including school leadership. We will take part in the same effort this year to ensure that as the Congressional budget and appropriations committees draft their FY 2013 budget proposals, they are aware of the need to invest in education. Go here to see CEF’s budget response for FY 2012: http://cef.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Budget-Response-FY-12-FINAL.pdf.


President Obama Delivers State of the Union (SOTU) Address

The text of the speech and additional materials are available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/01/25/president-obama-state-union. Also see the Department of Education blog post: An America Built to Last and the Blueprint for An America Built to Last (pdf). Senate Democrat leaders said on Wednesday they plan to bring pieces of President Obama’s economic “blueprint” unveiled in his State of the Union speech to the floor in coming months. In the President’s Blueprint that follows much of his SOTU address, there aren’t many specific proposals for education. Below, however, are the excerpts from the Blueprint on proposals related to K-12 issues:

Attract, prepare, support, and reward great teachers to help students learn: Teaching is a profession and should be treated like one. The latest research says a great teacher could increase the lifetime income of an entire classroom by hundreds of thousands of dollars. The President is fighting to protect our schools from being hurt by the recession by providing states and communities with funds to prevent teacher layoffs, and avoid increases to class sizes or decreases in the number of school days. The President is also asking for a new competitive program that will challenge states and districts to work with their teachers and unions to comprehensively reform the teaching profession by:

  • Reforming colleges of education and making these schools more selective;
  • Creating new career ladders for teachers to become more effective, and ensuring that earnings are tied more closely to performance;
  • Establishing more leadership roles and responsibilities for teachers in running schools; improving professional development and time for collaboration among teachers; and providing greater individual and collective autonomy in the classroom in exchange for greater accountability;
  • Creating evaluation systems based on multiple measures, rather than just test scores;
  • Re-shaping tenure to raise the bar, protect good teachers, and promote accountability.

Keep students in high school: The President challenged state governments to live up to their responsibilities by calling on every state to do what 20 states have already done: require students to stay in school until they graduate or turn 18. Studies show that stronger dropout laws keep students in school longer and increase their lifetime earnings as a result. Raising compulsory school requirements, in conjunction with the Administration’s historic investments in low-performing schools, will curb the high school dropout crisis and set students down a path of academic and career success.

See statements from leading members of Congress in response to the President’s address:

Kline Responds to State of the Union Address

Rhetoric vs. Action: State of the Union Promises and the House Republican Agenda

Harkin Statement on President Obama’s Third State of the Union Address

Rehberg Response to President Obama’s State of the Union


Enzi response to President’s State of the Union address

Miller Statement on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

President Obama Proposes a Race to the Top Program for Higher Education

In a speech President Obama delivered this morning at the University of Michigan, he proposed a $1 billion competitive grant for states to improve their higher education systems.

As stated in Education Week, “To snag the grants, states would have to smooth the transition between K-12 and college education by aligning entrance and exit standards between the two systems. That proposal would appear to build on an incentive in the original, $4 billion Race to Top for K-12 (Race to the Top Classic), which rewarded states for many things, including if they signed onto the Common Core State Standards Initiative—an effort by states to create more uniform, rigorous standards that prepare students for post-secondary education.

That may be a tall order in the current cloudy economic forecast, in which nearly every state has squeezed funding for post-secondary education in recent years.” Read the entire article here: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/01/white_house_proposes_new_race.html.

More States Encouraging Students to Graduate Early

More states are increasing the pace of high school curriculum and giving college scholarships as strategies to encourage students to graduate early in order to save district money and allow students to start their post-secondary careers or education sooner. New scholarship programs for early high school graduates are being introduced in Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, and South Dakota, while legislation is pending in other states.

As quoted in Education Week, “Still, the model can face opposition when state money to districts walks with the departing students. And others are skeptical that students can be truly ready for college a semester or two early. With a growing emphasis on individual and online learning, as well as continued budget pressures, experts anticipate that the option of graduating early will continue to be debated in statehouses in the new legislative sessions.” Read the rest of the article here: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/01/25/18graduation_ep.h31.html?tkn=PLRFiP4FV0m%2FB%2B7SDbe4P7FQdSVDqNgVEUBp&cmp=clp-edweek.

Center on Education Policy Report Finds Progress with Common Core Implementation but Challenges with Budgetary Constraints

In a report published this Wednesday, Center on Education Policy staff report on the progress of implementing common core standards now that efforts are in year two. While the report finds that the “vast majority of survey states are taking steps to familiarize state and district officials with the new standards and to align curriculum and assessments,” most of the states surveyed for the report do not expect to implement the standards until the 2014-2015 school year or later. Further, most states prophesied the challenge of adequate resources to fully implement the standards. Read the report here: http://www.cep-dc.org/displayDocument.cfm?DocumentID=391.


States Vary on Special Education Enrollment: “An analysis of Department of Education data shows that the percentage of students in special education varies widely among states. While Rhode Island tops the country at 18%, Texas, at 9%, is at the bottom. The average percentage across all states is 13%.” See: State Special Education Rates Vary Widely


CEP Report: The Center on Education Policy recently issued: A Public Education Primer: Basic (and Sometimes Surprising) Facts about the U.S. Education System, 2012 Revised Edition.

ECS Report: 12 for 2012: Issues to Move Education Forward in 2012


Chairman Kline ESEA Event: Chairman Kline will speak about his ESEA bills at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) event on February 9. For details and to register: Chairman Kline Unveils GOP Vision to Fix No Child Left Behind


While their bosses were back in their home states in early January, senior congressional staff members who work for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY)—the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee—visited Woodbridge (VA) Middle School. Recently recognized as a 2012 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School, the high-poverty, high-achieving school was chosen for the visit because of its documented successes in meeting the needs of each and every student.

The rare act of bipartisanship from Republican and Democratic staff members offers us all a glimmer of hope, as both groups will be responsible for writing legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and other federal laws affecting the day-to-day activities in our nation’s schools.

During their day at Woodbridge, the congressional staff sat in on seventh-grade personal learning community (PLC) meetings, visited a mix of single-sex and coed classes, and met with the school’s leadership team and a group of teachers, parents, and students. As one of the congressional staff members explained to the larger group, the visit was an opportunity for them to see what’s working in high-achieving schools and help others replicate those activities through the development of federal legislation.

Principal Skyles Calhoun was pleased to share Woodbridge’s success with the congressional staff. “The media is full of coverage about the low performance of some public schools, but it’s a rare occasion to be able to showcase what’s going right in public education,” he said. “I would encourage all principals to invite their members of Congress and staff to visit their schools in order to gain a more accurate picture of our challenges and successes.”

Leading a middle school of more than 1,000 majority low-income and diverse students is no easy task. As they explained to the representatives, Calhoun and his two assistant principals are each predominately responsible for one grade as well as the content areas, special education, and “encore” or elective classes. The school leaders make a concerted effort to be visible to students and teachers: they sit in desks conspicuously placed in the hallways, frequently visit classrooms, and cover cafeteria duty each day.

Teachers also spend a lot of their time in meetings, talking about data, instruction, and how they can improve the performance of individual students. To give extra assistance to struggling students who are not able to attend afterschool tutoring sessions, the school employs a modified schedule on Fridays.

Calhoun disclosed that one of the school’s major strategies to motivate and engage students is their rewards program, “Very Important Students Academically” or “VISA.” Students who make all As or Bs during the previous grading period receive a VISA card with a red lanyard to wear to school. The card allows them to go to the front of the line in the cafeteria and to be the first ones to get on the buses in the afternoon. As one teacher noted, the program is of little-to-no cost for the school, but its perks mean a lot to the students who agreed that it’s a great motivator to perform better academically.

Classroom visits highlighted the exemplary teaching that contributes to the success of the school. In a same-sex math class for seventh-grade girls, students played the role of teacher and used the Smartboard to present lessons while their peers calculated answers on their personalized whiteboards. In a same-sex English class for eighth-grade boys, students were being taught how to express tone by writing letters to the school janitor after taking part in an imaginary cafeteria food fight. Posted in each classroom was the lesson objective along with friendly reminders about assignments, field trip dues, and upcoming projects.  

The visit ended with a question and answer session attended by the school leadership team, teachers, parents, and students. Much of the conversation focused on Woodbridge’s same-sex education program where students can participate in all-boy or all-girl math, science, language arts, and history classes. Parents can opt-in to have their children participate in the program, and because it’s the only same-sex education program in Prince William County, the school serves 100 out-of-district students.

Students participating in the program raved about their classes, describing how in the all-boys class the teacher may throw a football to an individual student before he answers a question, but in the all-girls’ class the students may work more collaboratively and pass each other notes with the answer. One parent whose son was enrolled in the program said that he seemed to enjoy middle school more than elementary school. On the other hand, another parent explained that because her son is autistic, he prefers the more structured environment of the co-ed classes. One congressional representative, in particular, expressed concern that the program was reinforcing gender stereotypes, but Calhoun and his team defended the same-sex strategy, citing the academic success of the students participating in the program and noting that the girls seemed more empowered and confident.

The congressional staff members were also interested in learning about the parental engagement of low-income parents and non-English speakers, how sixth graders felt about their transition from elementary to middle school, professional development opportunities for teachers and school leaders, bullying, and the students’ career aspirations. They also tried to “recruit” the aspiring lawyers in the room to instead consider a profession on Capitol Hill.


In his State of the Union address, President Obama offered schools a deal: To provide schools with resources to keep good teachers and reward the best ones, and expect in return that schools exercise their flexibility to “teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.”

It’s a deal schools will happily make, provided the right supports are in place. Such supports include a commitment to strengthen the entire education profession through better preparation programs and professional development for teachers, principals, and other instructional staff. This development extends to meaningful educator-evaluation systems that resist a focus on student test scores to assess educator performance.

Such supports include formula funding to balance out the Race to the Top and the Investing in Innovation grant programs that drive competition among states to the detriment of low-income students in states that lose. Dedicated resources for programs like Title I will provide ALL students—regardless of state or district—a chance to succeed.

And most immediately, if we’re to no longer “teach to the test,” such supports include policies that are no longer written to the test. We call on the President to renew his pressure on Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and fix what is not working for all schools in No Child Left Behind. While the current law did some good in highlighting the achievement gap, the law’s high-stakes testing and onerous AYP provisions do little to reduce the gap. If education is indeed to become our national mission, the commitment must begin with a fairer and more flexible federal law.

The flexibility of a reauthorized ESEA would arrive just in time for schools to accept the President’s challenge to keep all students in school until age 18 or until they graduate. States with such a policy already in place point to a number of benefits, according to a 2010 NASSP position statement, including greater social mobility for students in poverty who are required to remain in school longer. Raising the compulsory age alone, however, will have no real affect. The policy must be accompanied by a comprehensive school renewal, as encouraged in the Breaking Ranks framework for school improvement, to empower students as owners of their own learning and as the innovators who will fulfill the broader vision of America that President Obama described.

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Weekly Update-January 20, 2012

On January 20, 2012, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


President Obama to Deliver the State of the Union Address January 25

President Obama will give his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress next week on Tuesday, January 25 at 9 pm EST. White House staff have indicated that to get a sense of the themes that will likely be in the speech, to look at the speech President Obama recently gave in Osawatomie, Kansas. White House staff has also indicated that this speech will be the policy and message guide for the White House for this year. Read the speech here: Remarks by the President on the Economy in Osawatomie, Kansas.  The word “education” is mentioned 11 times and “school” 6 times.

FY 2012 Budget and Appropriations

The following articles will give you a good sense of the political outlook for this 2nd session of the 112th Congress:

GOP returns with New Year’s hangover,

On the Hill, the worst is yet to come,

House GOP Looks to Regroup After Short Workweek and

2012 Budget Debate: Like “The Hangover, Part II”


Duncan Implies Most of FY 2012 Race to the Top Funding Will Go to Districts

In the final FY 2012 appropriations bill that includes education spending, the competitive grant Race to the Top received $550 million (down from $700 million in FY 2011). U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan indicated that most of this FY 2012 money will award districts this time around, instead of states. Secretary Duncan said in an Education Week interview last week, “You can do different things. You can do early childhood as a piece of that, or STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] as a piece of that…I don’t want to commit, but the bulk of the money will go through districts. … What we’ll be asking of districts is still very much up for consideration.” Read the full article here.

Apple Unveils E-Textbook Strategy for K-12

Apple has created a partnership with three major textbook publishers-McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt-to move into the K-12 space and offer interactive textbooks at its iBooks store priced at $14.99 or less. According to Education Week, “The textbooks feature multimedia elements, including video, three-dimensional graphics, and photo galleries. They also allow students to highlight text to create flashcards and search within a glossary.” Read more about Apple’s move into e-textbooks here.

Secretary Duncan Sits Down For a Comprehensive Interview

This week U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sat down with an Education Week reporter to discuss many issues, including waivers, Race to the Top, reauthorization, and the election. On the topic of waivers, here is one of the questions and Secretary Duncan’s response: “Q. How does the Education Department monitor dozens of different, sophisticated state accountability systems?

A. I think about that a lot. Part of the business we should be in is managing a portfolio of states. And so it’s 50 relationships. It’s not insignificant, but I think it’s really manageable. … And then the other thing, just like Race to the Top, I’m not promising anyone we’re going to bat 1,000. We may grant a waiver to a state that makes its commitments in good faith, but doesn’t keep them. And just to be very clear, and just as in Race to the Top, if we need to revoke the waiver six months from now, a year from now, two years from now, because folks can’t deliver on what they said, we’re more than prepared to do that.” Read the entire interview here.


Editorial Projects in Education (EPE)

“The EPE Research Center is a division of Editorial Projects in Education, the non-profit organization that publishes Education Week.

The Research Center conducts annual policy surveys, collects data, and performs analyses that appear in the Quality Counts and Diplomas Count annual issues of Education Week. The Center also manages the Education Counts database of state policy indicators, releases periodic special reports on a variety of topics, and contributes data and analysis to coverage in Education Week.” Explore their research here: http://www.edweek.org/rc/?intc=thed.


Center on Education Policy Releases Public Education Primer

The Center on Education Policy (CEP) has released the new and updated version of its popular Public Education Primer. The Primer packages national data about students, teachers, school districts, schools, and other areas of elementary and secondary education. It includes easy-to-read facts and figures on the distribution of students, student demographics, funding, student achievement, teachers, and much more.

CEP’s Public Education Primer uses the most recent data available. In many cases, data are compared over the past decade or projected into the future.

Click here to access the full report, which is available for free.

ED Strategic Plan: The Department of Education has posted its draft strategic plan for fiscal years 2011 through 2014 on its website for public comment.  From January 13-27, 2012, the Department is seeking comments on the content of the document.  Any comments can be sent to strategicplancomments@ed.gov before the period closes on Friday, January 27th. The draft plan can be found here: www.ed.gov/about/reports/strat/index.html.

Jobs Council Report: The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness this week “released “Road Map to Renewal,” a year-end report addressing the broader factors influencing American prosperity and competitiveness in a global age.” A large section of this report deals with education and life-long learning issue


Weekly Update-January 13, 2012

On January 13, 2012, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston



Reminder: New NASSP Digital Principal Award Applications Are Due Tuesday, January 17!

The Digital Principal Award is an opportunity to honor principals who exhibit bold, creative leadership in their drive to harness the potential of new technologies to further learning goals. The award also allows us to showcase models of leadership that encourage the use of technology in instruction and for principals’ own professional use.

NASSP will honor three NASSP member principals in schools that cover any subset of grades K—­12.

Learn more and apply here, or encourage an outstanding “digital principal” you know to apply (deadline is this Tuesday January 17!): http://www.nassp.org/awards-and-recognition/digital-principal-award


New Legislation

ESEA: Last Friday, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) released his final two ESEA bills: one on accountability and the other on teacher quality. Kline also provided these fact sheets on the bills, but please be sure to read more about the bills in the News section below.

Part 1: Ten Years Later, A Better Way Forward for K-12 Schools

Part 2: Ten Years Later, A Better Way Forward for K-12 Schools

Part 3: Ten Years Later, A Better Way Forward for K-12 Schools


NASSP, Other Education Organizations Weigh in With Initial Review of House ESEA bills on Accountability, Teacher Quality

NASSP has formulated an initial summary and analysis of the over 500 combined pages of legislation in House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline’s (R-MN) two bills on accountability and teacher quality for ESEA reauthorization. NASSP’s initial analysis of the two bills is the following: “Though both bills call for some provisions in alignment with NASSP advocacy agenda including the elimination of the school turnaround models; comprehensive residency, induction, mentoring, and professional development programs for school leaders; and the consideration of student growth and multiple measures in teacher evaluations; we have numerous initial concerns about many other provisions. Also seemingly absent from the bills are any specific mention of middle and high schools or of a federal literacy program such as the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program that NASSP feels is invaluable in preparing students for college- and career-readiness.

Further, the inclusion in these bills of two bills we continue to oppose (HR 2445 and HR 1891) makes it difficult for us to conceptualize a means to support these bills unless language from these prior bills is removed.”  Go here to read the rest of this blog entry which includes a summary of the bills.

Also read about initial reactions from other education groups here.

Race to the Top Report

On Tuesday, the Department of Education released “state-specific reports profiling first-year progress on comprehensive education reform under Race to the Top.” The states profiled were the 12 states that received funding in 2010 in the competition’s first two phases: Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee. Said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “Race to the Top states have made tremendous strides in this first year…These twelve states have acted with courage and commitment in taking on ambitious education reform. Their year one work has helped lay the foundation for long-term, statewide improvements centered on doing what’s best for students.”Read the press release and access the state reports here.

Reflections on NCLB on its 10th Anniversary

Several education experts and practitioners weighed in last week on the 10th anniversary of NCLB, which was signed into law January 8, 2002, about where NCLB has taken us as an education system and where we need to go from here. Says U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “The question today is how to build on NCLB’s success and fix its problems. Fortunately, states are leading the way. In Washington, we need to do everything we can to support their work.” Read the rest of his op-ed that appeared in the Washington Post here: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2012/01/after-10-years-it%E2%80%99s-time-for-a-new-nclb/. Read others’ reflections, including those of members of Congress and educators, here.


Graduation Rate Accountability in State Waiver Applications

NASSP coalition partner the Alliance for Excellent Education has recently released a paper analyzing how graduation rates are incorporated into the accountability indexes being proposed by states as a part of their waiver applications. Below, please find a link to the paper along with a brief description of the analysis. “Waving away graduation rate accountability”: http://www.all4ed.org/files/WaivingAwayAccountability.pdf


AEI Education Event on What the Election Year Will Mean for Education Policy

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is hosting a forum on February 1: Education 2012: What the Election Year Will Mean for Education Policy.  For details and to RSVP (you can also access a video recording if you are not in the Washington, DC area to attend): http://www.aei.org/events/2012/02/01/education-2012-what-the-election-year-will-mean-for-education-policy/

Summer Jobs for Low-Income Youth

Under Summer Jobs+, the federal government and private sector are committed to creating nearly 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth in the summer of 2012, with the goal of reaching 250,000 employment opportunities by the start of summer, at least 100,000 of which will be placements in paid jobs and internships.  For more information, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/01/05/we-cant-wait-white-house-announces-federal-and-private-sector-commitment.

NASSP Webinar on Cutting-Edge Technology to Use in the Classroom

Want to learn more about cutting-edge technology initiatives used every day in the classroom? View this archived webinar that took place this Wednesday: Melinda Maddox discusses ALSDE’s highly regarded technology initiatives. Then Craig Bates provides a principal’s perspective on how these initiatives work on the ground in schools, and what impact they are having on student achievement and engagement. Access the recorded webinar and all other archived webinars here.


On Friday, the Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee John Kline (R-MN) released his final two ESEA bills on accountability and teacher quality. As you recall, the House  committee has already approved three ESEA bills this session: to eliminate nearly half of all federal education programs (HR 1891); to allow states and districts to transfer funds between various titles of ESEA (HR 2445); and to create new charter schools and expand high-quality ones. The bill on charter schools is the only bill with bipartisan support in the committee and the only one to gain passage by the full House. What follows is NASSP’s summary and initial analysis of these remaining two ESEA bills released as they impact school leaders. Be sure to check NASSP’s February edition of NewsLeader for a more thorough summary and analysis of the bills.

The Student Success Act

This bill addresses the accountability components of Chairman Kline’s piecemeal approach to ESEA reauthorization. This bill eliminates Adequate Yearly Progress and instead requires states to develop a system that measures the academic achievement of all students against the state’s academic standards, including growth toward the standards and other measures of academic achievement as identified by the state. State as well as district plans must be developed with the input of education stakeholders including school leaders (the bill uses the term “school leaders” instead of “principals” assumedly to capture all relevant staff in school leadership positions).

States must annually evaluate the performance of their public schools based on student academic achievement, overall performance of each category of students, and achievement gaps between categories of students. One “win” for NASSP is that the current School Improvement Grant models (including those requiring the replacement of the principal) are repealed and states instead can develop their own school improvement plans. States must establish reading, math, and English language proficiency standards with the option to develop standards in other subjects, and must develop corresponding achievement standards for evaluating students and school performance. The bill maintains annual testing for reading and math (with science and other subjects optional) in grades 3-8 and once in grades 9-12, and requires reporting of results by the same student subgroups listed in No Child Left Behind.

What sours this bill significantly is the inclusion of language from a bill that NASSP strongly opposes (HR 2445) that gives states and districts 100% flexibility to use federal education dollars at their discretion instead of directing money toward specific purposes and student populations, including low-income students.

The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act

This bill addresses the teacher effectiveness provisions of Chairman Kline’s approach to ESEA reauthorization and provides funding for Title II programs. (The bill leaves noticeably absent any reference to principal/school leader evaluations). The bill makes optional a statewide teacher evaluation system but requires a district-level evaluation system. Districts must develop teacher-evaluation systems that:

  • use student achievement data as a “significant factor” (i.e. presumably over 50%) accompanied by other multiple measures in determining a teacher’s evaluation;
  • have more than two categories for rating teacher performance;
  • be used to make personnel decisions;
  • and are based on input from parents, school leaders, teachers, and other school staff.

State funds authorized in this bill offer opportunities for school leaders through:

  • training in using the developed teacher evaluation system;
  • sharing of evidence-based effective practices related to teacher and school leader effectiveness and professional development; and
  • providing professional development for teachers and school leaders.

The bill consolidates funding for formula grants directed toward teacher quality programs in order for states to implement one or more of many programs, including

  • reforming teacher and school leader certification, recertification, licensing, and tenure systems;
  • carrying out programs that establish, expand, or improve alternative routes for state certification or licensure of teachers and school leaders;
  • developing, or assisting eligible entities in developing-performance-based pay systems for teachers and school leaders; developing, or assisting eligible entities in developing, new teacher and school leader induction and mentoring programs;
  • providing PD for teachers and school leaders that is focused on improving teaching and student learning and achievement in the core subjects;
  • and other activities identified states that meet the purposes of this grant.

The bill also establishes a local three-to-five-year competitive grant program to develop, implement, and evaluate programs or activities including initiatives to assist in recruiting, hiring, and retaining highly effective teachers and school leaders; and new teacher and school leader induction, mentoring, and residency programs, among others.

Folded into the language of this bill, unfortunately, is another previously-approved committee bill that NASSP strongly opposes: HR 1891 . Known as the “Kill Bill,” this bill approved by the committee eliminates about half of all programs in the Department of Education, stripping away those programs such as mental health and counseling services that ensure a well-rounded education.

NASSP Analysis

Though both bills call for some provisions in alignment with NASSP advocacy agenda including the elimination of the school turnaround models; comprehensive residency, induction, mentoring, and professional development programs for school leaders; and the consideration of student growth and multiple measures in teacher evaluations; we have numerous initial concerns about many other provisions. Also seemingly absent from the bills are any specific mention of middle and high schools or of a federal literacy program such as the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program that NASSP feels is invaluable in preparing students for college- and career-readiness.

Further, the inclusion in these bills of two bills we continue to oppose (HR 2445 and HR 1891) makes it difficult for us to conceptualize a means to support these bills unless language from these prior bills is removed.

NASSP will keep you updated on the status of these and other ESEA bills in the House and Senate as negotiations continue.


Weekly Update-January 6, 2012

On January 6, 2012, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


NASSP Information

Reminder: NASSP Digital Principal Award

From the NASSP website: The Digital Principal Award is an opportunity to honor principals who exhibit bold, creative leadership in their drive to harness the potential of new technologies to further learning goals. The award also allows us to showcase models of leadership that encourage the use of technology in instruction and for principals’ own professional use.

NASSP will honor three NASSP member principals in schools that cover any subset of grades K—­12. Applications due January 17- apply now!

Sign up for NASSP webinar next week on cutting-edge technology

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM EST

Want to learn more about cutting-edge technology initiatives used every day in the classroom? Join Melinda Maddox, Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) Director of Technology Initiatives, as she discusses ALSDE’s highly regarded technology initiatives. Then listen as Craig Bates, principal of Winterboro High School in  Alpine, AL, provides a principal’s perspective on how these initiatives work on the ground in schools, and what impact they are having on student achievement and engagement. Register now!

New Legislation

House Education Committee Chairman Kline Releases ESEA Bills on Teacher Quality and Accountability

Today at 3 pm, House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline released his final 2 ESEA bills (#4 and 5): The Student Success Act addresses accountability, and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act addresses teacher quality. Read Chairman Kline’s press release and access the bills here. Also go here for an initial Education Week summary of the bills. NASSP will post a summary of these bills on the Principal’s Policy Blog on Monday, so stay tuned.


NCLB Turns 10: Reflections and Commentaries on NCLB from Legislators, Educators and Experts

On January 8, NCLB will turn 10 years old. This web page on Education Week gives you access to several resources about NCLB: brief overviews of its key components, and reflections and commentaries from legislators, educators, and experts. Access the web page here.

Virtual Charter Schools’ Performance Lags behind That of Traditional Schools

A report by the National Education Policy Center found that 27% of for-profit companies operating virtual schools met the adequate yearly progress standards of the federal No Child Left Behind law, compared with 48% of traditional charter schools and about half of all public schools.

One of the researchers, Gary Miron, said it’s perplexing why so many virtual schools are not meeting adequate yearly progress. “These are not highly impoverished schools. … These schools should be more likely to meet adequate yearly progress,” he said. However, some of the providers of online education claim that it is unfair to use adequate yearly progress to measure the performance of a school. Says Jeff Kwitowski, spokesman for the company K12 Inc,”It’s not a reliable measure. The secretary of education has said that the AYP measure under (No Child Left Behind) is broken and unfairly labels schools as failing.” Read the rest of the article here.

Out-Of-School-Time Activities Draw Girls to STEM

According to a U.S. Department of Commerce report released last year, women hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs even though they make up about half the nation’s workforce. Many out-of-school-time programs are attempting to remedy this inequity through offering girls opportunities like engineering “design challenges” through California Bay Area’s Techbridge program, and other programs offering exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.) Read more about the growing momentum of girls involved in STEM programs here.


What Are the Key Actions of Effective Principals?

Check out a Wallace Foundation report on the 5 Key Elements Exercised by Effective Principals

Effective Teachers Help Students Long-Term in Significant Ways

From a New York Times article published January 6, 2012: “Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students’ standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings, according to a new study that tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years.” Read the full article here.


Federal Education Budget Resource: Education Appropriations Guide for Fiscal Year 2012

This week, the New America Foundation’s Federal Education Budget Project (FEBP) released the “2012 Education Appropriations Guide,” which details and explains fiscal year 2012 funding for the U.S. Department of Education.

The guide includes:

  • An analysis of funding for major education programs;
  • An explanation of the key steps in the budget process, including the Budget Control Act, which shaped final fiscal year 2012 appropriations;
  • An explanation of Pell Grant funding and changes to eligibility rules;
  • A timeline of congressional action taken during the fiscal year 2012 budget process; and
  • A table comparing 2012 spending levels to 2011 levels, the president’s budget request, and House and Senate spending proposals.

To view the full brief, please click here.



As the number of homeless children and youth rises to just over 1.6 million nationwide, Congress is examining how the federal definition of “homelessness” affects their ability to access vital services.

Educators familiar with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Program already know that the US Department of Education (ED) and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) differ greatly in how they categorize homeless families and youth—and ultimately who can access vital HUD services.

New regulations that went into effect on January 4 as part of enactment of the HEARTH Act (P.L. 111-22) do little to clear up the confusion. Whereas families and youth living in hotels, motels, or doubled-up situations are considered homeless by ED and qualify for McKinney-Vento services, the revised HUD definition would deem them “at risk” and would only make them eligible for services under the following circumstances:

  • If the hotel or motel is paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state, or local government programs for low-income individuals
  • If the hotel, motel, or doubled-up situation will be lost within 14 days of the date of the application for homeless assistance
  • If the family or youth has not had a lease, ownership interest, or occupancy agreement in permanent housing at any time during the 60 days immediately preceding the date of applying for homeless assistance
  • If the family or youth is fleeing domestic violence, sexual assault, or other life-threatening conditions; has no other residence; and lacks the resources to obtain other permanent housing.

At a hearing before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing, and Community Opportunity in December, middle level and high school students discussed how their families’ living situations were having an adverse impact on their academic careers. Maria Estella Garza, the homeless liaison for the San Antonio (TX) Independent School District, explained how the district provides students with transportation, school supplies, immediate enrollment, and free meals, but that she is challenged by the competing ED and HUD definitions.

“From my understanding, the services that might be available for ‘at risk’ families under the new HEARTH Act do not include most of the services my families need, such as transitional housing, permanent housing, and supportive services such as job training and mental health services,” Garza stated.

The subcommittee’s chair, Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), has introduced legislation that would amend the HUD definition of “homelessness” to include children, youth, and their families who are verified as homeless by federal program personnel authorized under four federal programs: school district homeless liaisons designated under the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act; Head Start programs; Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs; and Early Intervention programs under IDEA, Part C.

“During the 2008 to 2009 school year, the Department of Education identified nearly one million more homeless kids than HUD identified,” said Biggert in her opening remarks at the hearing. “Whether they are in a motel or jumping from couch to couch, these kids need help.  Under my bill, a child working with the homeless liaison at a local school district could access transitional housing from HUD without fighting through a new layer of federal bureaucracy.”

Strongly supported by NASSP, the Homeless Children and Youth Act would provide communities with the flexibility to serve and house families, children, and youth who are extremely vulnerable and in need of assistance. People in local communities are the best equipped to assess specific homeless situations to know which homeless families and youth are most in need of housing and services. Service providers make these determinations on a daily basis, and should be permitted to assess the full range of homeless situations.

Rep. Biggert has said that she hopes to secure House passage of the Homeless and Children Youth Act early this year.