Alliance for Excellent Education

Association for Middle Level Education

National Association of Elementary School Principals

National Association of Secondary School Principals

National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform




Strengthening Non-Cognitive Skills in the Middle Grades to Improve Academic Achievement and Success


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

121 Cannon House Office Building


Presenters Include

Moderator, B.J. Paris, Board President

National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)


Craig Wacker, Lead, Student Agency Strategy

Raikes Foundation


Erik A. Burmeister, Principal, Hillview Middle School, Menlo Park, CA

2013 MetLife/NASSP Middle Level Principal of the Year Finalist


Dr. Vicky Dudek, Principal, Landmark Middle School, Moreno Valley Unified School District 2014 Taking Center Stage Schools To Watch Designee


Mark Shanoff, Ed.D, Principal, Ocoee Middle School, Ocoee, Florida

National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) National Distinguished Principal, 2014 – Florida

An Apple Distinguished School



RSVP to: Hannah Allen at



Today, Representatives Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced the House companion bill to Senator Tim Scott’s (R-SC) Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education, also called the CHOICE Act.  The bill has yet to be assigned a bill number or posted on but the legislation will mirror the Senate version (S. 1909), which was introduced earlier this year.  Both versions of the CHOICE Act will funnel over $11 billion of taxpayer money to private schools.  NASSP has opposed this bill and has a long standing position statement on private school vouchers.  We are especially concerned with the CHOICE Act as it would shift scarce public funds for special education to private institutions which are not bound by federal and state laws and regulations on staffing, programming and personalization for students with disabilities.

Furthermore, under current law, if a school district determines through the evaluation and IEP process that it cannot adequately provide the necessary services for a student with disabilities in its school system, then that child could be placed by the IEP team in a private school, with all the protections of IDEA and at no cost to the student’s family. In contrast, when a student attends a private school using a voucher, the parent must pay all tuition and fees above the costs covered by the voucher—the disparity between the voucher amount and the actual cost of the student’s education is usually significant and cost prohibitive for most parents.

The CHOICE Act would also expand private school vouchers by creating a pilot school choice program for students living on military bases which would reduce or even eliminate funding for Impact Aid.  Finally, the bill would greatly increase the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program for students living in the District of Columbia, which has not proven effective through numerous studies.

Rep. Rokita also spoke about the legislation today and the role of the federal government in education at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) event. You can view his remarks here.

NASSP also opposes the Scholarship for Kids Act (S. 1968/H.R. 4000), another private school voucher bill which was introduced earlier this year.  This legislation would create a scholarship program for eligible low-income children to use at any state-approved public or private school they attend or for supplemental educational services.  However, in order to pay for the $24 billion  Scholarship for Kids program, the bill would dismantle a vast majority of currently authorized federal education programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that we know our members strongly support, such as literacy education, career and technical education, and school leadership. Additionally, 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.

JoAnn Bartoletti, NASSP’s Executive Director released the following statement in January when the Senate versions of the CHOICE Act and the Scholarship for Kids Act were introduced, “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.”  She also stated, “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.”

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 CHOICE Act and the Scholarship for Kids Act. If you haven’t already contacted your members of Congress to share your thoughts on these bills, visit the Principal’s Legislative Action Center (PLAC) to send a letter today!



The Alliance for Excellent Education and
the National Association of Secondary School Principals

Invite You to Attend a Briefing


Making Learning Personal in High Schools:
The Role of Secondary School Leaders


Thursday, May 1, 2014

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (EDT)

902 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC

(Lunch available at 11:30 a.m.; program begins promptly at 11:45 a.m.)



Mark Anderson, PhD, Principal, Marshall Fundamental Secondary School (Pasadena, CA)

Jonathan Brice, EdD, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education

Carol Conklin-Spillane, Principal, Sleepy Hollow High School (Sleepy Hollow, NY)

Kevin Grawer, Principal, Maplewood Richmond Heights High School (St. Louis, MO)

Phillip Lovell, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Alliance for Excellent Education

Barbara-Jane Paris, President, NASSP Board of Directors, Round Rock Independent School District (Austin, TX)


Please join the Alliance for Excellent Education and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) for a discussion about the role of leadership in creating dynamic personalized learning environments that have produced continuous growth in student proficiency over the past three years. The MetLife Foundation–NASSP Breakthrough Schools project identifies, showcases, and recognizes middle and high schools that are achieving at high levels or dramatically improving student achievement while serving a large number of students who are most at risk of dropping out.


The panel discussion will highlight three schools—Marshall Fundamental Secondary School (CA), Sleepy Hollow High School (NY), and Maplewood Richmond Heights High School (MO)—that have been recognized by the Breakthrough Schools project in 2014 for exemplifying the core areas of personalization, collaborative leadership, and access to a rigorous and differentiated curriculum for all students.


RSVP by Monday, April 28, 2014.

Space is limited. Acceptances ONLY, on a “first-come” basis, with subject line

“RSVP: May 1 Briefing” to,
or contact Shawnice Hood at (202) 828-0828.


The Alliance for Excellent Education and NASSP offer a special thank you to U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, honorary host of this event.


This event is closed to press.


This briefing is made possible with support from

The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those who are traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.


Follow the Alliance on Twitter (; Facebook (; and the Alliance’s “High School Soup” blog (



The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and national voice for principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders in middle level and high schools from across the United States and in 36 countries. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality professional learning experiences.


Follow NASSP on Twitter (; Facebook (; and the Principal’s Policy Blog (


In order to ensure that more principals and assistant principals have the skills to lead turnaround efforts in their schools, the US Department of Education is seeking applications for a new program to implement or enhance the “leadership pipeline” in low-performing schools. With $14 million in funds appropriated under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program in FY 2013, the new Turnaround School Leaders Program would provide grants to help select, prepare, support, and retain leaders in SIG-receiving or SIG-eligible schools.

According to the announcement, performance monitoring of the SIG program and interviews with external partners indicate that many school districts “do not have the capacity or resources to recruit or develop school leaders able to undertake successful turnaround efforts.” The announcement also notes that state-approved principal certification and licensure programs “are not preparing school leaders with the specialized skills needed to turn around schools identified as low-performing,” and school districts “struggle to identify the right competencies in leader candidates for turnaround schools.”

Under this announcement, ED expects to award 8-12 awards ranging from $1 to $2 million apiece. Eligible applicants include school districts or consortia of school districts serving more than five SIG-eligible schools. These school districts or consortia could also partner with state educational agencies, institutions of higher education, or nonprofit associations.

Applicants must propose a plan to develop and implement a leadership pipeline for at least one school district that serves five or more SIG-eligible schools. Competitive preference would be awarded to those school districts that have: 1) policies in place to provide school leaders with decisionmaking autonomy with regard to staffing, school schedules, and budgeting; or 2) a record of preparing and supporting turnaround school leaders who have demonstrated success in increased graduation rates and academic growth.

Under the programs, grantees would be required to assist school districts to:

  • Recruit and select promising current and prospective school leaders with the competencies necessary to turn around a SIG school or SIG-eligible school;
  • Provide high-quality training to selected school leaders to prepare them to successfully lead turnaround efforts in SIG schools and/or SIG-eligible schools;
  • Place school leaders in SIG schools and/or SIG-eligible schools and provide them with ongoing professional development and other support that focuses on instructional leadership and school management and is based on individual needs consistent with the school district’s plan for turning around its SIG schools and/or SIG-eligible schools; and
  • Retain effective school leaders, using financial or other incentives, and replace ineffective school leaders.

Applicants must provide a notice of intent to apply by April 25, and final applications are due on May 23. For more information about the Turnaround School Leaders Program, go to:

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 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.