Teacher Equity Data Released by USED

On March 21, 2014, in Uncategorized, by Amanda Karhuse

A comprehensive study done by the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released Friday shows that students of color and English language learners are much more likely to be taught by lower-paid teachers with less experience when compared to white students.

The study, released Friday, used information from the nation’s public schools during the 2011-12 academic year. Black students are more than four times more likely as white students to attend schools where at least 20 percent of teachers haven’t met all state certification and licensing requirements.

The report also showed that there was a teacher salary gap of at least $5,000 a year between high schools with the highest concentration of black and Latino students and ones with the lowest concentration in nearly a quarter of all school districts that have at least two high schools.

This data indicates that some of the underrepresented groups of students who perhaps need strong teachers the most are often the ones in schools with first-year teachers and high turnaround rates.

While the data is eye-opening, it fails to even mention a vital component in teacher retention: strong school leadership.

We know that teachers are often attracted to schools because of principal quality, so this data leads us to believe that schools with higher of first-year teachers are also schools with a high principal turnover rate and/or a lack of strong leadership, whether at the school or district level.

This highlights the need for incentives to help principals recruit and retain teachers in schools to ensure that schools most in need of strong teachers and leaders don’t have to train a whole new group of teachers every year.  Combating these high turnaround rates will require an investment in good induction and mentoring programs for new teachers so they feel like a valued member of a school’s staff and are encouraged to stay with their school year after year.

In addition, recruiting minority candidates and investing in grow-your-own teacher programs can help all students seethemselves reflected in the teaching force.  Having strong examples of minority teachers in schools with high concentrations of black and Latino students will help these students see that teaching is a career option for them.

Another extremely troubling finding from the Office of Civil Rights’ data is that 20% of high schools in the country do not have a school counselor. Counselors play a vital role in ensuring students graduate college and career-ready and all students deserve a committed staff member who can help them understand what courses they need to take in order to reach their academic goals and assist them in setting post-graduate goals, including helping them with applying for financial aid for post-secondary education. On top of helping with the academic concerns of students, students who attend a school with no counselor miss out on social and emotional support that can be critical for some.

NASSP strongly supports the American School Counselor Association recommendation of 1:250 school counselor to student ratio for maximum effectiveness, in addition to our support of various legislation that would fund additional counselors, social workers, and school psychologists.

As a member of the Coalition for Teaching Quality, NASSP will work to ensure that all students attend schools led by high-quality principals with high-quality teachers in every classroom. Our efforts will include legislative proposals at the federal and state levels to improve the preparation, training, and professional development of teachers and principals.

 

2014 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year Sheila Harrity hosted US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at her Massachusetts school March 12 for a town hall meeting on career and technical education (CTE).

Duncan toured Worcester Technical High School to meet with educators, community college officials, and business leaders. With Harrity’s leadership, Worcester Tech, which was named a NASSP Breakthrough School in 2011 and a National Blue Ribbon School in 2013, has become a CTE success story.

The town hall meeting, moderated by Harrity, consisted of a panel that represented key CTE stakeholders and partners: the school’s CTE director , a business partner, a school department head, the president of the local community college, and of course, a student.

The school, which has 24 technical programs, has been able to leverage partnerships with businesses, industries and four-year colleges and universities, which help support a full-service restaurant, day spa and salon, 16-bay auto service center and a veterinary clinic at the school, giving its students the opportunity to graduate from the school with the skills to secure good-paying and rewarding jobs.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a school that’s more open,” Duncan said of Worcester Tech. “Whether it’s higher education partnerships [or] business partnerships, you’re literally inviting the community into your school every single day. This school is an extraordinary community asset, and we need more schools to understand that they shouldn’t be scared of the community.”

Duncan made clear his belief that the school’s success is a direct result of Harrity’s visionary, collaborative leadership.

“Dr. Harrity is an athlete, and she understands teamwork,” Duncan said. “But there are no great teams without great leadership, and you have a great leader here in Dr. Harrity.”

To commemorate the visit, Duncan presented Harrity with an official signed US Department of Education basketball.

Duncan and Harrity first met at the September 2013 Principal of the Year awards gala, and they immediately connected over their love of basketball. Duncan played collegiately at Harvard University and professionally for a time in Australia. Harrity played college ball at Providence College in Rhode Island.

Shortly after being named high school principal of the year last fall, Harrity testified during the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s hearing on the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Her testimony underscored many of NASSP’s recommendations for Perkins reauthorization.  NASSP has long been an outspoken supporter of the Perkins Act, which provides the greatest source of federal funding to the nation’s high schools.

 

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced a new partnership with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to encourage additional school leadership roles for teachers. Under “Lead the Change,” National Board-certified teachers would collaborate with principals, district leaders and other stakeholders to develop a plan for teachers to lead in their schools without having to leave their classrooms.

Prior to the announcement this afternoon, NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti had an opportunity to speak to Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deb Delisle about the proposal and how our organization could contribute to the initiative. During the conversation, she expressed the association’s excitement about the prospect of principals’ involvement in the development and implementation of Lead the Change.

As the Breaking Ranks framework for school improvement reminds us, school success relies on the outstanding skills and contributions from many individual leaders working together. A culture of shared responsibility and true collaborative leadership will require principals to bring together coalitions of teacher leaders who have the skills to meet the school’s objectives and create a culture of continuous learning and shared decision-making.

While the initiative is short on details at this time, we expect that recommendations will be submitted to Secretary Duncan by March 2015. We know that middle and high school leaders are struggling to implement new college and career-ready standards and teacher evaluation systems, and NASSP will continue to work with the US Department of Education to ensure that the principal’s perspective is taken into consideration as the plan for teacher leaders is developed.

More information will be posted on the Department’s blog on Monday, March 17.

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Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Donald Payne (D-NJ) today introduced the Great Teaching and Leading for Great Schools Act, which NASSP strongly supports. The bill focuses on the importance of improving teacher and principal quality by providing intensive, job-embedded professional development that is useful and relevant to educators’ work.

“Too often, teachers are subjected to one-time workshops that are disconnected from their needs in the classroom.” said Rep. Polis in a press release. “We need to give teachers the time, training and resources to collaborate and take advantage of the data revolution in education. I am proud to have worked with teachers, principals, and other stakeholders to advance a new system of professional learning that will ultimately lead to better outcomes for students.”

“Teachers and principals are the most important school based factors that impact student achievement. Unfortunately, attempts at education reform have lacked meaningful efforts to strengthen professional development,” said Rep. Payne. “The Great Teaching and Leading for Great Schools Act is an important update to current law to ensure that teachers and leaders have the training and support needed to prepare our 21st Century learners. And I am pleased to cosponsor this legislation with the leadership of Congressman Polis.”

The Great Teaching and Leading for Great Schools Act provides a new definition of professional development in the Elementary and Secondary School Education Act that is based on research and best practices that focuses on continuous professional learning. It also encourages professional learning strategies that involve the use of technology, peer networks and time for school leaders and teachers to engage in collaborative team-based learning multiple times per week. Furthermore, the bill advances evidence-based professional learning strategies for principals to provide useful feedback, engage the community and partners and foster professional learning communities.

NASSP was pleased to offer input and comments prior to the bill’s introduction as the legislation was in development. For example, NASSP worked with Rep. Polis’s staff to ensure that the language in the legislation acknowledged that school leaders have a significant impact on student learning and teacher retention thus playing a significant role in creating a successful school environment. Most importantly, the bill would ensure that evaluation systems for principals connect to a system of support and development. The language is very much aligned to the recommendations developed by NASSP and NAESP in 2012. Rethinking Principal Evaluation combined leading research on principal evaluation and the practitioner perspective to provide states and districts with guidance on establishing effective principal evaluation systems.  Many of the report’s recommendations are included in the Polis bill, such as requiring principal evaluation systems to take into account multiple measures of student performance, including student academic growth, support for effective teachers and other “critical leadership factors”, such as graduation outcomes and social and emotional development—and other factors aligned to the domains of effective principal practice.

The Great Teaching and Leading for Great Schools Act is also consistent with principals’ beliefs that any evaluation must be measured by observations of the principal and other relevant data.  These leadership practices include: creating a school culture of high student achievement; managing the school’s organization and resources to achieve school improvement goals; engaging families, community and other stakeholders; cultivating a positive environment for learning and teaching; managing staff talent and development; and maintaining focus on personal leadership, professional knowledge, skills, and improvement.

Providing personalized professional development for all principals, assistant principals and teacher leaders that supports collaboration and best practices within school districts and schools to improve instruction and learning is critical for the overall success of all students.

NASSP and NAESP sent a joint letter of support for the Great Teaching and Leading for Great Schools Act, and we will continue to work with Congressman Polis and his colleagues to ensure the bill is enacted into law

Today the President released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for the Department of Education.  The President requested $68.6 billion in education funding which is an increase of $1.3 billion over Fiscal Year 2014 allocations.  In its FY15 budget the Department lays out its six priorities:  “1) increasing equity and opportunity for all students, 2) strengthening support for teachers and school leaders, 3) expanding high-quality preschool programs, 4) affordability and quality in postsecondary education, 5) promoting educational innovation and improvement, and 6) improving school safety and climate.”

NASSP was ecstatic to see that support for teachers and school leaders was highlighted as the number two priority for the Department, however the School Leadership Program saw a modest increase from the FY14 levels to a proposed level of $35 million.  This increase pales in comparison to the ever growing professional development needs of school leaders as they work to implement college and career-ready standards and new teacher evaluation systems. (See NASSP & NAESP’s Policy Brief:  Supporting Principals in Implementing Teacher Evaluation Systems.)

In the FY15 budget plan, Title I is renamed, “College and Career Ready Students” and is level funded at $14.4 billion.  Additionally, IDEA state grants are funded at $11.6 billion which is an increase of $100 million over FY14 appropriations, but the $100 million is earmarked for Results Driven Accountability Incentive grants, a new competitive grant program.  Career and technical education state grants were also level funded at $1.1 billion in the President’s proposal.

One program NASSP was particularly pleased to see the President include was the new ConnectEDucators grant at $200 million, that would support the use of digital devices and technology, including professional development to personalize the learning environment.  NASSP has long promoted digital learning and technology to foster personalized learning for all students.  This initiative supplements ConnectED, that NASSP also supports, which aims to bring broadband internet to 99 percent of students in five years.

This year’s proposal again includes the High School Redesign program, requested at $150 million which would provide competitive grants to local school districts that partner with institutions of higher education, non-profits, community based organizations, government agencies, and business or industry related organizations to stimulate a comprehensive redesign of the high school experience with meaningful and relevant academic and career-related learning experiences.  This program is currently mirrored in the Youth CareerConnect grants managed by the U.S. Department of Labor.  The President also once again proposed elimination of the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program to form their own program called Effective Teaching and Learning: Literacy.  However, Striving Readers has strong support in Congress and was funded at $158 million in the FY14 omnibus spending bill.

Lastly, the FY15 request included a new Race to the Top (RTT) initiative, RTT-Equity and Opportunity competitive grant program that seeks to close the opportunity and achievement gaps for students attending the nation’s highest-poverty schools.  The President’s request is for $300 million.  While equity in our nation’s public schools is deservedly the number priority in the Department of Education’s FY15 budget request, it shouldn’t be a competitive grant program that typically benefits the districts that already have the resources to write successful grant proposals while leaving out poorer and rural districts that lack the support and resources to compete.  NASSP continues to urge a stronger investment in formula funded programs, like Title I and IDEA that support high poverty schools and students and students with disabilities.

To view all the Department of Education budget documents, visit www.ed.gov/budget15 and make sure to continue to check the Principals Policy Blog for more information and follow @balljacki and @akarhuse on Twitter.

 

NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti issued the following statement on the FY 2015 budget proposal:

President Obama’s proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget offers plenty to celebrate, but also renews some ongoing disappointment. Secretary Duncan got our attention when he declared teacher and leader effectiveness the #2 education priority—quite appropriately, behind equity and opportunity for all students. The Secretary’s language reflects a consistent recognition from ED of the importance of leadership in school success. Unfortunately, that recognition did not translate to budget support. Dedicated leadership-development funds under the School Leadership Program received just a modest $9 million increase to $35 million. Yes, the option of leadership development is woven throughout other programs under Title II, but history tells us that states and districts rarely use  those funds for professional development for principals. And our nation’s school leaders need that training and support more than ever as they strive to implement new college and career-ready standards and teacher evaluation system sunder new accountability requirements.

NASSP was an early supporter of the president’s ConnectED initiative to bring broadband Internet to 99 percent of students in five years, and we are delighted to see that priority reflected in his budget proposal. The proposed $200 million for the new ConnectEDucators initiative will help teachers and leaders optimize digital tools to personalize learning and improve instruction and assessment—hallmarks of NASSP’s Breaking Ranks Framework for School Improvement.

Encouraged though we are by the ConnectED investment, we are equally disappointed by the President’s hefty proposed investment in competitive grant proposals at the expense of formula programs. With dramatic increases in Race to the Top and School Turnaround programs, and new, smaller scale competitive grants in areas like career/technical education and special education, the president renews his commitment to create an education system that tilts toward the “haves.” A competitive grant program necessarily has winners and losers, and the latter are far too typically the poorer, rural districts that often lack the support to write and compete for grants successfully. As equity is the number-one priority, we strongly encourage the administration to rethink these competitive programs and make a strong investment in formula programs like Title I and IDEA.

Cross posting from Ignite ’14 blog.

Last week at Ignite ’14, the NASSP Board of Directors officially approved the release of a joint policy brief with NAESP offering recommendations for principals in implementing teacher evaluation systems.

The brief, titled “Supporting Principals in Implementing Teacher Evaluation Systems: Recommendations from practicing principals to improve instruction and learning,” is the work of a joint committee formed by NAESP and NASSP in November to review current research and literature on the impact that new teacher evaluation systems are having on principals across the country.

The committee of 19 practicing principals provided a unique perspective on how the profession is being impacted by the adoption of new teacher evaluations systems. The committee developed seven recommendations for policymakers at all levels to better support principals in the implementation of teacher evaluation systems.

While the effect of new teacher evaluation systems on principals has been minimally covered in literature, NASSP and NAESP have learned from their members that the time required for the evaluations is a major concern for principals. In February 2013, a survey of NAESP and NASSP members found that a substantive teacher evaluation requires 11–15 hours per teacher over the course of a school year.

While the research is still emerging on the implementation of the new teacher evaluation systems, we do know that principals are facing many challenges including insufficient and ongoing training, unclear or “check the box” rubrics, poor feedback mechanisms, and inadequate time to complete meaningful evaluations and engage in instructional coaching. Recent studies have also found that one of the most positive impacts a principal can have in his or her school occurs when they are able to focus on instructional coaching and build strong relationships with teachers.

The official press release on the new joint policy will be issued this week, so be on the lookout for it!

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ED Releases Guidance on Ed Tech PD $

On February 7, 2014, in Technology, by Amanda Karhuse

NASSP has been a big propoent of the ConnectED initiative to promote digital learning in the classroom, but most of the conversation has been focused on high-speed broadband and modernization of the E-Rate program. We all know, however, that connectivity is only the one part of the equation: school leaders and teachers must be trained on how to use the technology and integrate it into their instruction to ensure student success.

To address that issue, the US Department of Education released a Dear Colleague letter on February 5 that provides guidance to states, districts and schools on how they can leverage current federal funding “to support innovative technology-based strategies.”

The document includes examples of how funding from Titles I-3 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for digital learning “even if the program statutes do not reference educational technology specifically.”

According to the guidance, “these examples do not depart from previous ED guidance, but clarify opportunities to use federal grant funds to support digital learning, including 1) improving and personalizing professional learning and other supports for educators; 2) increasing access to high-quality digital content and resources for students; 3) facilitating educator collaboration and communication; and 4) providing devices for students to access digital learning resources.”

I’ve talked to many NASSP members, in person and during Twitter chats, who tell me that funding for education technology and training their teachers is a big challenges in their schools. So we were very pleased to hear that in addition to the guidance, President Obama will propose new funding for professional development for education technology in his FY 2015 budget. Details of the budget should be released in early March, so stay tuned!

NASSP Communications Director Bob Farrace was lucky enough to be at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, MD, yesterday where President Obama announced a major private sector investment of nearly $750 million for schools to improve digital learning. The additional funding for education technology is a major win in the administration’s ConnectED initiative to connect 99% of students to “next-generation connectivity” in 5 years.

 Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Verizon and AT&T have pledged to provide their products, mobile and wireless services, and professional development for educators at a  reduced cost, or for free to certain low-income schools. According to a White House fact sheet, these commitments will “help make the most of the government investment in broadband infrastructure by ensuring it is put the best educational use.”

The US Department of Agriculture will also provide $10 million in distance learning grants for rural schools to purchase equipment and services such as videoconferencing.
 
At a Digital Learning Day event in Washington, DC, today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to announce a new $2 billion investment in broadband and wireless services for schools through the E-Rate program. NASSP is cautiously optimistic about this proposal, which would improve management of the program and make it easier and cheaper to disperse funds to high-need schools. We have been engaged in conversations with FCC officials about modernizing the E-Rate program, but we also reiterate our call for raising the cap on E-Rate so funds are sustainable in a digital learning environment that is constantly increasing the demands on our schools and the networks they rely on.
 
NASSP is very pleased to hear that President Obama will include funding in his FY 2015 budget proposal for professional development for teachers and school leaders as they transition to digital learning and high-speed connectivity. School leaders were very disappointed when funding for the Enhancing Education Through Technology program was eliminated in FY 2011 (need to check on the date), and we have been championing Congressional proposals to renew this federal investment.
 
NASSP will continue to engage federal officials in conversations about the importance of digital learning in our nation’s middle level and high schools and urge for a strong and continued investment in the ConnectED initiative.
 

NASSP Opposes New Private School Voucher Proposals

On January 29, 2014, in Federal Funding, by Amanda Karhuse

As part of National School Choice Week in late-January, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) have introduced two bills to greatly increase federal funding for private school vouchers at the expense of our nation’s public schools.

“NASSP have long stated its opposition to private school vouchers, which drain money away from public schools, reduce accountability in the education system, and ultimately harm public schools where the vast majority of our nation’s youth receive their education,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “We are especially dismayed that the proposals would eliminate federal education programs that we know are important to school leaders, such as literacy education and career and technical education, and would redirect funding for special education programs and services away from public schools.”

The Scholarship for Kids Act (S. 1968) would authorize nearly $24 billion (41% of federal education funding) for a Scholarship for Kids program. Eligible low-income children would be able to use the grant scholarships at any state-approved public or private school they attend or for supplemental educational services. According to Sen. Alexander, 11 million students would be eligible for the scholarships and would be worth approximately $2,100 per student.

In order to pay for the Scholarship for Kids program, the bill would consolidate more than 80 federal education programs previously allocated for programs under Title I of ESEA, including the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program, the High School Graduation Initiative, the School Leadership program, the Enhancing Education through Technology program, and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. States participating in the program would be relieved of having to comply with all requirements of ESEA except for provisions related to challenging academic standards and related assessments.

“Equal opportunity in America should mean that everyone has the same starting line,” said Sen. Alexander at an event in Washington, DC. “During this week celebrating school choice, there would be no better way to help children move up from the back of the line than by allowing states to use federal dollars to create 11 million new opportunities to choose a better school.”

The Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education (CHOICE) Act (S. 1909) takes a three-pronged approach to increasing private school vouchers. First, the bill would provide funds to states for disability school choice programs that would allow students with disabilities to use funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act at any school of their choice. The legislation would also create a pilot school choice program for students living on military bases. Finally, the bill would greatly expand the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program for students living in the District of Columbia.

“As someone who grew up poor and nearly failed out of high school, I know the importance of empowering parents and teachers to make a difference in a child’s life,” Sen. Scott said in a press release. “Kids who succeed in the classroom have a better chance of succeeding later in life. Education is the cornerstone of success, and the CHOICE Act is a great first step towards ensuring more kids across our nation have access to a great one.”

All students deserve the opportunity to attend great schools and federal resources should help support schools and students who need it the most. For this reason, NASSP encourages all principals and assistant principals to contact their members of Congress and urge them to oppose the Scholarship for Kids Act and the CHOICE Act. Visit the Principal’s Legislative Action Center (PLAC) to find the contact information for your legislators and send a letter today!