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:


The NASSP State Coordinators and presidents-elect of our state affiliates stormed Capitol Hill on Wednesday, urging Congress to provide much-needed relief to educators hamstrung by the constraints of No Child Left Behind. The lesson learned by these outstanding school leaders? Principals can no longer afford to be silent on education reform issues—they need to make their voices heard because in the absence of leadership, legislators will listen to whomever is talking!


Prior to the Capitol Hill Day, the State Coordinators met with Denise Forte, Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development at the US Department of Education. She outlined the Obama administration’s education agenda for the second term, including a focus on early childhood, college affordability, and high school redesign. The State Coordinators asked questions about the RESPECT project to transform the education profession and how the Department could promote teaching as a valued profession. They also had a passionate conversation about graduation rates and rewarding students and schools who may take longer than 4 years to finish high school.


Although it was a hot and humid day in Washington, DC, the school leaders seemed energetic as they boarded the bus to Capitol Hill. They educated their members of Congress about the role of the principal as instructional leader and how they’re impacted by new teacher evaluation systems in their states. They also urged their legislators to move forward with a comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) because they want some continuity in the education reforms that are required for their states to receive an ESEA flexibility waiver. In particular, they recommended additional support to help educators implement college and career-ready standards, growth models and multiple measures of student achievement in accountability systems, principal evaluation systems based on the six domains of leadership responsibility within a principal’s sphere of influence, and elimination of the school turnaround models.


The principals and assistant principals also advocated in support of NASSP’s key bills:

  • The School Principal Recruitment and Training Act (H.R. 1738/S. 840) to improve the preparation and ongoing mentoring and support of new principals and assistant principals;
  • The Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act (S. 758) to support schoolwide literacy initiatives that focus on literacy across the content areas and targeted interventions for students reading and writing below grade level;
  • The Transforming Education Through Technology Act (H.R. 521/S. 1087) to provide “Digital Age” professional development opportunities for school leaders and teachers to ensure that technology is used to personalize instruction for every student;
  • The Success in the Middle Act (H.R. 2316/S. 708) to develop an early warning intervention and support system to identify students in the middle grades who are at risk of dropping out and implement interventions to help them succeed; and
  • The Graduation Promise Act (S. 940) to provide resources for low-performing high schools to implement differentiated school improvement activities focused on personalizing the school environment; improving curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and enhancing teacher and leader effectiveness.


The State Coordinators and presidents-elect felt empowered by their conversations on Capitol Hill and really felt that their members of Congress wanted to how federal policy impacts the people working in the trenches. Many of them were told that they were the first principals to ever visit the office, which shows that more school leaders need to get involved in grassroots advocacy!


To see photos from the Hill Day and hear more about their conversations, follow the #NASSPSC hashtag on Twitter.

As federal policymakers are finally beginning to understand that great schools cannot exist without great principals, NASSP is very pleased that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) reintroduced the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act (S. 840/H.R. 1736) last week. The bill, which had not been reintroduced during the 112th Congress, serves as the linchpin of our advocacy agenda to improve the preparation, mentoring, and professional development of our nation’s school leaders.

The School Principal Recruitment and Training Act would create a competitive grant program to recruit, support, and prepare principals and assistant principals to improve student academic achievement in high-need schools. It would create one-year residencies to train aspiring principals and would provide ongoing mentoring, support, and professional development for at least two years after the aspiring principals complete the residency and commence work as school leaders.

The bill would ensure that principal preparation programs include coursework on instructional leadership, organizational management, and the use of data to inform instruction. They would also provide differentiated training to principals in competencies that are critical to improving school-level student outcomes such as supervising and evaluating teachers, establishing learning communities, addressing the needs of students with disabilities and English language learners, and using technology to personalize instruction.

NASSP members are strongly encouraged to contact their members of Congress and urge them to cosponsor the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act. A form letter is available at the Principal’s Legislative Action Center, but we hope that you will personalize the message by sharing your own experiences in a principal preparation program and highlight the need for continuous, ongoing professional development.

Twenty-five states have voluntarily agreed to enact new policies on teacher and principal licensure and certification, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) which released a report on transforming educator preparation on December 19. Although the report focuses on those state policy levers chiefs can activate through state education agencies, the recommendations “will require the leadership and collaboration of all stakeholders involved in P-20 education.”

In an attempt to not be overly prescriptive about how changes should be made to teacher and principal preparation programs, the report defines “learner-ready teachers” and “school-ready principals” and identifies 10 state actions that can help shape policies on licensure, program approval, and the use of student outcomes and other beginning teacher and leader performance data in the evaluation of preparation programs.

According to the report, few principal preparation programs make a concerted effort to recruit educators who exhibit the potential to become effective school leaders, and the reality is that many people who enroll in these programs do not aspire to serve as principals or assistant principals upon graduation. States are encouraged to revise their salary incentives “to ensure that we are using our resources to prepare the best principals possible to create learning environments for students to achieve and grow and teachers to implement effective instructional practices.” School districts should also actively partner with preparation programs in creating a more “selective and probing” process in recommending who should be prepared to be school leaders in the future.

NASSP agrees that principal preparation programs should recruit high-quality candidates to enter their programs and ensure that graduates are committed to serving as school leaders. We feel that candidates should have demonstrated success as a classroom teacher and show prior success in leading adults, have an advanced, and demonstrate a passion and commitment to leadership.

The report includes recommendations on induction and mentoring for new teachers, but it provides no similar guidance for principal preparation programs. NASSP recommends that aspiring principals should receive training during a year-long pre-service residency that includes coaching from an effective principal and hands-on instructional leadership experience. New school leaders should receive the benefits of induction for up to three years.

CCSSO attempts to address concerns of portability of teacher and principal licenses across states by encouraging common requirements in preparation programs and performance standards. They also encourage states to shift away from the duality of licensure as either traditional or alternative and create one standard for pathways into the profession.

The report states that preparation and entry into the profession “compose the first phase of a continuum of development for teachers and principals and are the foundation on which a teacher or principal builds his or her career.” Ongoing professional learning, collaboration with colleagues, and feedback on the performance of teachers and principals will be the focus of future reports issued by CCSSO.

Read the full report here.

 The National Association of Secondary School Principals invites you to attend


School Leaders Address Hot Topics in Education Reform

A Discussion with the 2012 NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year and National Finalists


Thursday, April 19, 2012

2:00pm – 3:30pm

Capitol Visitor Center, SVC 201-00

Washington, DC





Ken Griffith, President, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)


Brian True, Director of Sales, Virco Inc.


Sean Burke, National Finalist

McMinnville High School, McMinnville, OR


Maureen Cohen, National Finalist

Grafton High School, Grafton, MA


Denise Khaalid, 2012 NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year

South Pointe High School, Rock Hill, SC



What does it take to improve student achievement, what does effective school reform actually look like in schools, and what is the best way to evaluate teachers? Every school will have a unique experience, but a key group of key school leaders play an important role: assistant principals. You will hear from the 2012 NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year and National Finalists as they discuss hot topics in education reform such as maintaining a positive school climate, teaming and coaching teacher leaders, and using technology to improve student achievement and for professional learning.


Space for this event is limited; RSVPs will be accepted on a “first-come” basis. Acceptances ONLY with subject line “RSVP: April 19 NASSP Briefing” to by Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

The NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year program began in 2004 as a means to recognize the dedication and critical importance of secondary school assistant principals. The program recognizes outstanding middle level and high school assistant principals who have demonstrated success in leadership, curriculum and personalization.

NASSP is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 45 countries around the world. The association provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development as well, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit

As America’s leading manufacturer and supplier of furniture and equipment for K–12 schools, Virco is proud to support NASSP. Virco’s great classroom furniture selection includes best-selling ZUMA® models, traditional chairs and desks, and all-new Parameter®, TEXT®, Metaphor® and Telos® items. In 2005, ZUMA and ZUMAfrd™ became the first classroom furniture products to earn GREENGUARD® for Children and Schools certification; now, Virco has hundreds of Greenguard-certified products. Virco offers the classroom furniture industry’s only Take-Back Program that helps schools recycle their out-of-service furniture. If you’re faced with a major FF&E purchasing project, check out Virco’s stress-free PlanSCAPE® service!

Weekly Federal Policy Update

On April 1, 2011, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


The short-term fiscal year 2011 continuing resolution (CR) is set to expire next Friday, April 8, and Congress must negotiate another short-term or full-year CR or else face a government shutdown. The latest news is that Democrats, facing pressure from Republicans to cut more from the budget, have agreed to at least $23 billion in cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year, and the White House-anxious to keep the government running-seems to be in line with this agreement as well. However, House Speaker Boehner has said that $23 billion is “not the agreement,” intimating that he and other conservative members on both sides still want to cut $61 billion more from this fiscal year to achieve the $100 billion total in cuts for the year that they originally championed. We have heard that they will try to cut at least $33 billion and will not settle for $23 billion. Thus, a government shutdown at this point is not completely out of the question and NASSP will continue to update you on the latest news on this front. Looking ahead to FY 2012, we have heard that Congress will begin its FY ’12 budget markup next Wednesday where we’ll expect to see significant cuts to mandatory programs, so stay tuned for those updates.

The 2011 NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principals of the Year were in town this week. The state honorees visited their members of Congress Thursday on Capitol Hill, had a professional development session on Friday, and were recognized Friday evening with a gala. This week also marks National Assistant Principals Week (March 28-April 1), and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) yesterday introduced a Congressional resolution to recognize this week as such. Go here to read more about the National Assistant Principals of the Year program and here to read more about National Assistant Principals Week.


ESEA Talks Continue But No Agreement in Sight

Though Sen. Harkin announced in January his commitment to have an ESEA draft ready before Easter, agreements have yet to be reached on some of the most contentious issues three weeks before his proposed deadline. Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander said of the weekly, in-depth, bipartisan talks, “Some of the steps are easy, some of the steps are hard. We’ve reached the hard ones. We all hope we can succeed, but we haven’t succeeded yet.” However, public comments concerning the exact date of a draft unveiling have been few. Some in the education field have expressed concern that the draft will not be done by the deadline. Joel Packer, an education lobbyist for the Raben Group has stated “It’s hard for me to see this getting done by August”.

Civil Rights Groups Wary Of ESEA Reauthorization Priorities

A coalition of civil rights, education, and business groups issued a joint letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and members of Congress urging Congress to retain the current legislation’s emphasis on subgroup and minority accountability. The group worries new measures of accountability will allow schools to ignore subgroups in an effort to decrease the number of schools labeled as failing. “There’s a lot of uncertainty. We’re not in a place right now where we’re comfortable with where ELLs may end up with regard to accountability” says Raul Gonzales, director of legislative affairs for the National Council of La Raza. To read more, visit

Teacher Unions Mobilize Against Anti-Labor Legislation

In response to rigorous efforts by state legislatures to curb labor union rights, teacher unions are revamping protest efforts and raising awareness of labor rights nationwide. Unions have successfully blocked anti-union legislation in Alabama and Wisconsin and are pressuring other state legislatures to drop anti-union bills. “With the resources left to them, I would think unions would fight as hard as they can, because this really is a threat to their organizational existence” says Charles Franklin, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin. To read more, visit

Race to the Top Winners Juggle Ambitious Plans with Deadlines

As program deadlines near for Race to the Top winners, some winners have been forced to push back deadlines. The Department of Education has already approved six states that requested deadline extensions and scaled back initiatives. “These were comprehensive plans that had states really pushing the envelope,” says Ann Whalen, deputy director of the Education Department’s implementation and support program, “this flurry of amendments is largely due to states syncing up their applications to their scopes of work”. To read more, visit

Fired Principals Find New Education Jobs

Former principals ousted by the implementation of turnaround models have found employment as principals in other schools, assistant principals, and in some cases are even overseeing the turnaround programs in their former schools. “The musical chairs game is being played,” says Gerald Tirozzi, executive director of NASSP, “school districts, because they want the money, are finding creative ways to meet the requirements of the law”. To read more, visit


Read the Center for American Progress’ recently report, “Increasing Principal Effectiveness: A Strategic Investment for ESEA”: [pdf]

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Assistant principals nationwide got their day in the sun yesterday (4/27), when the House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution (H. Res. 1131) honoring the contributions of assistant principals to the success of students and supporting National Assistant Principals Week, which occurred from April 18 through April 23, 2010. The resolution also gives, for the first time ever, congressional recognition to the NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year program, which recognizes outstanding middle level and high school assistant principals who have demonstrated success in leadership, curriculum, and personalization.

“Assistant principals are the unsung heroes of our schools,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), who helped shepherd the resolution’s passage. “[Assistant principals] serve as a behind-the-scenes link between every sector of the school community. Their job description has expanded significantly over the past decades, and they are the backbone of a school’s administrative team. They interact with students, with teachers, with staff, and with parents on a daily basis to ensure that every child is receiving the best education possible. National Assistant Principals Week recognizes their important contributions.”

During National Assistant Principals Week, state assistant principals of the year, the National Principal of the Year and two National Finalists met on Capitol Hill with their Representatives and Senators to advocate for meaningful education reform in five priority areas: school leadership, improving middle grades education; ending the high school dropout crisis; comprehensive literacy education; and realistic education funding.

For more information on the week’s events and the National Assistant Principal of the Year program, including how to nominate an assistant principal for the 2011 award, please visit

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It’s a landslide. More than 250 folks responded to the poll question, “How do APs in your school spend the majority of their time?” and the answer is pretty definitive: 80% say their APs spend most of their time on discipline, with special education, student activities, and instructional leadership registering in the single digits.

So is this how we want APs to be spending their time? The newly formed NASSP task force on the assistant principalship will be addressing this question as part of its charge. In the meantime, we hope APs and principals will chime in and share some models for using APs in ways that provide them ample opportunities for building leadership capacity.

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