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.

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!

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

While there seemed to be little optimism at the beginning of the year that the 113th Congress would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the summer months saw a LOT of activity on Capitol Hill. The law, currently known as No Child Left Behind, has been due for reauthorization since 2007.

Bipartisan negotiations on ESEA failed in the spring, so the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House education committees went their separate ways on developing education policy. At one point, four separate proposals were floating around Capitol Hill, but ultimately a Democratic proposal was approved by the Senate HELP Committee in June and a Republican proposal (H.R. 5) was passed by the full House in July. Debate in both chambers centered on the appropriate federal role in education and a conversation about how to provide more flexibility for states and local school districts.

NASSP took no formal position on the Senate bill (S. 1094) as it contained both good and bad proposals affecting middle and high school leaders. However, we sent a joint letter with the National Association of Elementary School Principals opposing H.R. 5, which would lock in sequester cuts to programs authorized under ESEA through the 2019-2020 school year and provide little support to principals in their role as instructional leaders.

NASSP believes that the appropriate role of the federal government is to ensure that all students, especially those served in low-income communities and high need schools, have access to a rigorous curriculum and other educational opportunities so that all students graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to be prepared for the global workforce. Additionally, we believe that a reauthorized ESEA should help states and districts manage robust, meaningful accountability systems, while at the same time, provide sufficient supports for educators and schools to improve.

We are concerned that the bipartisan approach taken by Congress this year makes it very unlikely that a reauthorization will be finalized before the end of 2014. Rumors suggest that the full Senate may consider S. 1094 sometime this year, but Congress is fully focused on budget and appropriations issues. Even if the Senate does approve a bill in 2013, it would seem difficult for a conference committee to work out the major differences in the bills.

The following summarizes are positions on key issue areas within ESEA and how they are addressed in the House and Senate proposals:

School Leadership

House: H.R. 5 would remove the word “principal” from federal law and instead use the term “school leader,” which would also include superintendents and other district leaders. We feel that this diminishes the role of the principal as an instructional leader in absence of clear direction that principals are unique and their role in fostering high-quality instruction and learning must be upheld.

We are also disappointed that H.R. 5 includes provisions from the GREAT Teachers and Principals Act (H.R. 2196) as an allowable use of funds at the state level. NASSP oppose the GREAT Act and its intent to establish new principal preparation academies that usurp state-level authority over principal licensure and certification requirements, recruit principal candidates with little-to-no background in education or experience in a school or classroom, and provide minimal clinical experience and mentoring for new principals and assistant principals.

Senate: S. 1094 significantly expands and improves support for principals and instructional leaders from current law by including provisions of the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act (S. 840). The bill authorizes a competitive grant program to recruit, support, and prepare principals and assistant principals to improve student academic achievement in high-need schools through research-based programs. The provision would create one-year residencies to train aspiring principals, and provides ongoing mentoring, support, and professional development for at least two years after the aspiring principals complete the residency and enter the profession.

We were disappointed that S. 1094 also includes provisions from the GREAT Teachers and Principals Act (S. 1052) as an allowable use of funds at the state level.

Professional Development

House: NASSP strives to support the instructional leadership skills of the nation’s middle level and high school principals and other schools leaders. Professional development for principals has been largely overlooked by states and local districts. While we are pleased that states must provide training to school leaders on the statewide teacher evaluation systems, we are concerned that H.R. 5 does not require districts to use Title II funds for professional development for principals.

Senate: NASSP strongly supports a provision within S. 1094 that requires States to use 2-5% of funds to support school districts in improving the performance and equitable distribution of principals and other school leaders, and providing technical assistance to support the design and implementation of teacher and principal evaluation systems. Many states are initiating pilot principal evaluation systems and will need significant assistance to ensure that they will lead to improved leadership performance. Part of the technical assistance would also include training for principals and other evaluators on how to evaluate teachers in order to differentiate teacher performance accurately; provide useful feedback; and use evaluation results to inform decisionmaking about professional development, improvement strategies, and personnel decisions.

Principal Evaluation

House: NASSP and NAESP issued a report in September 2012 called Rethinking Principal Evaluation, which offers states and districts a framework for principal evaluation systems to reflect the complexity of the principalship, and measure the leadership competencies that are required for student and school success. Principals are concerned about the new evaluation systems being developed by states and districts that were a condition for receiving ESEA flexibility waivers, SIG program funds, as well as Race to the Top. Congress now has a responsibility to provide guidance to state and local efforts in ESEA in order to establish effective principal evaluation systems that will lead to improved performance of principals within the domains of effective school leadership, or the areas of their role in a school that are in their direct control.

We are concerned that H.R. 5 does not require the school leader evaluation systems in States to be based on more than just student test scores. We recommend that any principal evaluation focus on the six key domains of leadership responsibility within a principal’s sphere of influence: student growth and achievement, school planning and progress, school culture, stakeholder support and engagement, professional qualities and practices, and professional growth and learning. The research contained in NAESP and NASSP’s report recommends that no more than a quarter of a principal’s evaluation be based on student achievement, and that the evaluation include multiple measures of performance within each of the six key domains. Further, ESEA must ensure that States and districts provide for relevant, reliable, valid evaluation systems that comprehensively evaluate principals by taking into account local contextual factors, and weighting performance components appropriately to the individual principal.

Senate: The evaluation systems required in S. 1094 must be based “in significant part” on evidence of improved student academic achievement and growth, and evidence of providing strong instructional leadership, as well as support to teachers and other staff.

College and Career-Ready Standards

House: The nation’s principals and other school leaders are enthusiastic about the potential of rigorous, common standards that raise the bar for all students and set learning expectations from high school completion to college and career-readiness. Under H.R. 5, States would be required to develop and implement a single, statewide accountability system to ensure that all public school students graduate from high school prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce without the need for remediation. The bill does not address State’s adoption or implementation of Common Core State Standards.

Senate: In order to receive Title I funding under S. 1094, states must adopt college and career ready student academic achievement standards and assessments in reading or language arts and mathematics by the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year. The new assessments should measure the individual academic achievement of each student and student academic growth, including a measurement of the number of years of academic growth each student attains each year.

NASSP is concerned about provisions in the bill that support the transition to the new standards and aligned assessments for high-stakes accountability purposes only. Specifically, we have called for a delay on penalties and sanctions related to test scores for schools, principals, and teachers. This is not a call to eliminate accountability, but to allow for a transition period so that schools have at least two years of experience with the new assessment systems. The reauthorization of ESEA must take into account the transition period to give states, districts, and educators the time needed to properly address data collection issues, which have dogged states since the inception of NCLB.

School Turnaround

House: H.R. 5 would also eliminate the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program and instead allow states to implement their own turnaround strategies. While we’re pleased that this would remove the four school turnaround models that require the principal’s replacement as a condition for receiving federal funding, NASSP is concerned that this would eliminate the only dedicated funding stream for low-performing middle and high schools.

Senate: Similar to the ESEA flexibility waivers, districts would be required to identify schools that are in need of locally designed interventions, that are focus schools, or that are priority schools under S. 1094. For each priority school, the district would conduct a needs analysis to determine the most appropriate school improvement strategies to improve student performance. Districts must also provide ongoing professional development consistent with the needs analysis and conduct regular evaluations of teachers and principals that provide specific feedback on areas of strength and in need of improvement.

For priority schools, districts must select a school improvement strategy similar to the school turnaround models under the current School Improvement Grants program. Under the Transformation and Turnaround strategies, the principal must be replaced if he or she has been in the school for more than two years. The bill includes a new Whole School Reform strategy that must be undertaken in partnership with an external provider and that is based on at least a moderate level of evidence that the program will have a statistically significant effect on student outcomes. States could also establish an alternative evidence-based school improvement strategy for priority schools with the approval of the US Department of Education.

Literacy

House: As a member of Advocates for Literacy, NASSP was very disappointed that H.R. 5 would not include any federal comprehensive literacy program and would eliminate the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program. We feel that a renewed focus on comprehensive literacy education is crucial and necessary for all students to be college and career ready.

Senate: The text of the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act (S. 758), which NASSP strongly supports, would be incorporated into S. 1094. The “Improving Literacy Instruction and Student Achievement” provision of Title IV will provide federal support for states and LEAs to develop or improve, and implement comprehensive literacy programs from birth to grade 12.

Education Technology

House: H.R. 5 would not include any federal education technology program and would eliminate authorization for the Enhancing Education Through Technology Act, which has not been funded since FY 2010.

Senate: NASSP is very pleased to see the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation or “ATTAIN” Act included in S. 1094. The bill would authorize grants to states to administer education technology initiatives and subgrants to school districts to ensure that school leaders and teachers are technology literate. Principals are enthusiastic about the potential of education technology to support the personalization of student learning and improve academic achievement. However, they desperately need resources in their schools to purchase hardware, software, and digital devices and to access professional development opportunities so teachers understand how to infuse technology into their instruction.

Secondary School Reform

House: NASSP was disappointed that H.R. 5 would provide no additional support for middle level and high schools and would authorize funding for Title I at $16.6 billion for FY 2014-2019—lower than the program was authorized under NCLB in 2001. This is obviously unacceptable for the many schools serving low-income students that are eligible for Title I funds, including the middle and high schools that never receive such funding because of the high need in their feeder elementary schools.

Senate: We are very supportive of the “Improving Secondary Schools” provision of Title I in S. 1094, which would provide low-performing middle and high schools with the necessary resources to implement innovative and effective reform strategies. Many of the provisions of this section are contained in the Success in the Middle Act (S. 708) and the Graduation Promise Act (S. 940. We are especially pleased that the bill requires LEAs receiving a grant under this section to implement an early warning indicator system to help high schools and their feeder middle schools to identify struggling students and provide them with supports to help them get on track to graduate from high school college and career-ready.

ESEA Flexibility Waivers

Although Congress made great strides this summer towards a comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), policy analysts and educators alike are pessimistic about a final bill being passed before the end of 2014. And since most states will see their flexibility waivers expire at about that same time, the US Department of Education announced in August that those 34 states and the District of Columbia will be able to request renewals through 2016.

“America’s most sweeping education law—the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind—is outmoded and constrains state and district efforts for innovation and reform. The smartest way to fix that is through a reauthorized ESEA law, but Congress has not agreed on a responsible bill,” said US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Therefore the federal government has worked with states to develop waiver agreements that unleash local leaders’ energy for change and ensure equity, protect the most vulnerable students, and encourage standards that keep America competitive. The waiver renewal process announced today will support states in continuing positive change and ensuring all children receive a high-quality education—but I look forward to a day when we can announce a new ESEA law that supports every state.”

States seeking renewal of ESEA flexibility must submit an updated flexibility request describing how they will continue to meet the four principles outlined in the original waivers and demonstrate how the waivers have been effective in contributing to improved student achievement. ED is requesting states to submit a letter of intent to request a renewal of ESEA flexibility by December 15, 2013, and all requests must be submitted no later than February 21, 2014.

States must assure their continued commitment to implementing college and career-ready standards and describe how they are monitoring and supporting effective implementation of the standards. States are specifically required to provide all teachers and principals with “appropriate resources and support,” including professional development on the new standards. States must also reaffirm their commitment to develop and administer assessments aligned to the new standards no later than the 2014-2015 school year. They can do this by assuring their membership in one of the two Race to the Top assessment consortia or by administering their own statewide assessments.

States must provide a high-quality plan for implementation of interventions aligned with the turnaround principles in priority schools in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years, including a description of how they will identify future cohorts of priority schools. They must also describe how they will increase the rigor of interventions and supports in schools that were previously identified as priority schools that are still low-performing.

States must demonstrate that they are “on track” for full implementation of their teacher and principal evaluation and support systems no later than the 2014-2015 school year. Their implementation plans must include information on when data from the systems will be collected, publicly reported and incorporated into ratings, when ratings will be given to teachers and principals, when ratings will be used to guide professional development, and when ratings will be used to make personnel decisions. States must also describe how they will ensure that poor and minority students are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, ineffective, or out-of-field teachers.

If a state’s request for flexibility is not renewed, schools will be required to resume complying with all of the requirements under No Child Left Behind, including making adequate yearly progress determinations based on assessments given during the 2013-2014 school year, identifying schools for improvement, and paying for supplemental educational services and transportation for public school choice as required under Title I.

Visit the Department’s Web site for more information.

 

FY 2014 Budget & Appropriations

Congress was unable to complete action on the FY 2014 appropriations bill and also failed to approve a continuing resolution (CR) before the fiscal year ended on September 30, 2013. Therefore, the federal government ceased most of its operations for the first time since 1996. This means that “non-essential” government services and programs are suspended until Congress passes a CR to fund the government and federal programs for FY 2014. Most federal employees have been furloughed and all museums and national parks run by the National Park Service are closed. The government does provide for some “excepted” employees and activities during a shutdown that are deemed necessary to protect life, liberty and property namely the U.S. military, border patrol agents, TSA security screeners, air traffic controllers and food inspectors.

In regards to education, the U.S. Department of Education has furloughed 90% of its 4,225 employees, which means there will be processing delays in grant applications, contracts and delays and/or no communications coming from the Department. The Department has stated its website will not be updated until the shutdown is over. The one piece of good news is that most schools and districts will not face an immediate impact due to the shutdown since most federal education programs are forward-funded. This means money for formula funded programs such as Title I and II, IDEA, and career and technical education programs has already been distributed to education agencies. Additionally, the department will ensure that $22 billion in formula funding to states and districts will be dispersed as planned this month. While a short-term shutdown may not immediately impact schools and districts, a longer lasting shutdown will severely hamper the work of the Department and negatively impact schools and districts already adversely affected by sequestration. For additional information on the Department’s detailed shutdown plan, click here.

Additionally, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee have shuttered their doors during the shutdown and most Hill staff have been furloughed as well and are under instructions to not respond to work-related emails. With the doors to both education committees closed for business indefinitely it is even more unlikely that we will see ESEA get to the floor of the Senate, much less be conferenced and reauthorized this year.

One can only hope that Congress will come to their senses and do what is right for the nation by funding government operations, passing a budget for FY2014 which addresses sequestration and deals with the looming debit ceiling deadline on October 17. NASSP has posted an action alert on the Principal’s Legislative Action Center encouraging our members to urge their members of Congress to end the shutdown and invest in education funding. We will continue to advocate for the repeal of sequestration to stop the harmful cuts to investments in education for our nation’s children and support a balanced, bipartisan solution to deficit reduction.

 

Education Technology

ConnectED

NASSP is strongly supportive of the ConnectED initiative, which the Obama administration launched in June 2013 to increase broadband Internet access to schools across the country and improve digital learning opportunities for students.

At an event at Mooresville (NC) Middle School, President Obama called on the Federal Communications Commission to “modernize and leverage” the E-rate program to meet the administration’s new goal of connecting 99% of the nation’s students to the Internet through high-speed broadband and wireless over the next five years. The president also said that the US Department of Education would work with states and school districts to better use existing federal funds to “strategically invest in the kind of professional development to help teachers keep pace with changing technological and professional demands.”

At a Capitol Hill event sponsored by the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training in July, NASSP member and principal of Pottsgrove High School in Pottstown, PA, Bill Ziegler, spoke about his school’s technology program and the support they had received from the E-rate program. But he spoke more hesitantly about the future, stating that it would be difficult to keep up with increased bandwidth demands due to online assessments and e-text books among others.

In response to the president’s ConnectEd announcement, the FCC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to review and possibly modify virtually every aspect of the E-rate program with 3 overarching goals:

  • Ensuring schools and libraries have affordable access to 21st century broadband that supports digital learning;
  • Maximizing the cost-effectiveness of the E-rate program; and
  • Streamlining the administration of the E-rate program.

The FCC asked educators to submit comments on the NPRM by September 16, and NASSP filed it own comments on behalf of middle and high school principals and in coordination with the Education and Library Networks Coalition.

 

High School Redesign

In a roundtable event at Aviation High School in New York City last June, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan highlighted key aspects of a new High School Redesign initiative that President Obama first mentioned in his State of the Union address and then included in his FY2014 budget proposal released last April.

According to Duncan, the purpose of the proposed $300 million discretionary grant program would be to “promote a rethinking of the high school learning experience, and challenge schools to incorporate personalized learning and career and college exploration and ensure that all students graduate with college-level coursework or college credit, as well as with career-related experiences or competencies.” In addition to urging secondary school leaders and teachers to strategically use learning time in more meaningful ways, the new initiative calls for evidence-based professional development to deepen educators’ skills, support collaboration and expand a comprehensive system of student support. Lastly, Duncan noted changes to the current high school structure and experience will require collaboration and contributions from a number of partners from both the public and private sectors, including institutions of higher education, non-profits, business and industry.

Specifically, the High School Redesign initiative would support competitive grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) in partnership with institutions of higher education and other entities, such as non-profits, community-based organizations, government agencies, and business or industry-related organizations to help schools apply academic concepts to real world challenges. The proposed program would also give priority to partnerships in areas with limited access to quality career and college opportunities, such as high-poverty or rural LEAs.

While there seems to be widespread agreement that the traditional high school design is outdated, efforts to reinvent high schools date back decades and have been explored by numerous LEAs, organizations and associations. NASSP’s contribution to the discussion goes back to the 1996 release of the Breaking Ranks framework for school improvement and an updated version of the initiative in 2003. The three core areas identified as critical in Breaking Ranks—collaborative leadership; personalization of the school environment; and curriculum, instruction and assessment—have become commonly agreed upon principles of redesign.

Taking a step further to help put the proposed High School Redesign program into practice, Reps. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Mike Honda (D-CA) plan to introduce the Creating Academic Pathways and Graduation Our Whole Nation Act (CAP and GOWN) in October. This legislation, supported by NASSP, would help schools, districts, and states implement effective high school improvement systems by identifying low-performing schools and supporting the development and implementation of comprehensive, evidenced-based reform.

Specifically, the legislation would create a competitive high school redesign program to increase the number and percentage of students who graduate from high school ready for college and a career by identifying low-performing schools for whole school reform or targeted intervention and establishing an early warning indicator and intervention system in targeted schools as well as feeder middle schools. Additionally, the bill would develop and implement comprehensive high school redesign models that personalize education for students and connect their learning to real-world experiences while providing additional supports to low-income and low-performing high schools. The competitive-grant program would be authorized at $300 million.

While funding for the High School Redesign program remains unknown as Congress continues to struggle to finalize the FY2014 budget, secondary school advocates should be pleased with the continued federal focus on high schools, feeder middle schools and the push to connect student learning directly to the real world.

 

NASSP on Capitol Hill

MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year Capitol Hill Day

The state and national principals of the year conducted over 190 meetings with their members of Congress on Thursday, September 20. They shared their perspectives on school leadership and their experiences as educators and instructional leaders. In addition, the national winner and finalists participated in a roundtable discussion with the education policy advisors for Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Patty Murray (D-WA).

2014 National High School Principal of the Year Testifies at CTE Hearing

Since Congress seems to have hit a brick wall on ESEA reauthorization, the House Education and the Workforce Committee has decided to focus on a new project: reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act. The subcommittee overseeing elementary and secondary education held its first hearing on Perkins and CTE programs on September 21, and NASSP was very pleased to be represented by the 2014 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year, Dr. Sheila Harrity, who is the principal of Worcester (MA) Technical High School.

Worcester Tech, which was also named a MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School in 2011, has 1,400 students in 24 technical programs within four small learning communities. Once the lowest-performing high school in the city and the poorest performing vocational school in the state, the students are graduating at high levels and performing well on state assessments, and the achievement gap has decreased significantly for all student subgroups.

Students are graduating college and career-ready at Worcester Tech, taking AP courses and earning a high school diploma in addition to receiving college credits and an industry credential in some fields. Harrity has been able to leverage partnerships with business and industry and four-year colleges and universities, which help support a full-service restaurant, day spa and salon, 16-bay auto service center, and veterinary clinic at the school. “Our school’s success and the city’s success are intertwined,” she stated, noting that students are leaving Worcester Tech with the skills to secure good-paying and rewarding jobs in the community.

In his opening remarks at the hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) outlined the status of Perkins reauthorization, stating that Congress will need to assess the federal role in career and technical education, ensure CTE programs are effective, and help states recruit and retain educators with valuable knowledge and experience. “As we work to rebuild our economy after the recent recession, strengthening career and technical education programs will help put more Americans on the path to a prosperous future,” he said.

Delving more into the policy issues, Vermont Deputy Commissioner and President of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium John Fischer spoke about vital importance of a federal investment in CTE, which continues to be a “major driver of change and innovation in CTE.” He explained that all states had agreed to a common vision for CTE that includes five principles:

  • CTE is critical to ensuring that the United States leads in global competitiveness;
  • CTE actively partners with employers to design and provide high-quality dynamic programs;
  • CTE prepares students to succeed in further education and careers;
  • CTE is delivered through comprehensive programs of study aligned to the National Career      Clusters Framework; and
  • CTE is a results-driven system that demonstrates a positive return on investment.

Fischer said that the 2006 law encouraged states to strengthen the integration of high-quality academic and technical education programs, emphasizing that students participating in CTE programs be held to the same academic standards as all other students. He further noted that CTE students are out-performing their peers on academic benchmarks and they are graduating at a national average of more than 90%. “Our nation’s economic vitality hinges on our commitment to invest in and ensure the preparedness, efficiency, innovation, creativity and productivity of the U.S. workforce, and CTE is instrumental to our success,” he concluded.

The committee wants to move quickly on a bipartisan reauthorization of Perkins this year, and future hearings will likely examine the Obama administration’s blueprint that was released in April 2012.

 

School Principal Recruitment and Training Act

NASSP and NAESP have worked closely with staff for Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) to update and improve the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act (S. 840/H.R. 1736). The bill would authorize a grant program to recruit, select, train, and support aspiring or current principals with track records of transforming student learning and outcomes and prepare these principals to lead high-need schools.

The School Principal Recruitment and Training Act currently has 6 House cosponsors and 1 Senate cosponsor.

 

LEARN Act

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) have reintroduced the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act (S. 758/H.R. 2706). The LEARN Act would authorize $2.35 billion for comprehensive state and local literacy initiatives, building on the best components of the federal Early Reading First, Reading First, and Striving Readers programs.

The LEARN Act has 4 Senate cosponsors and 8 House cosponsors.

 

Transforming Education Through Technology Act

House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Transforming Education through Technology Act (H.R. 521) earlier this year, and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) introduced a companion bill (S. 1087) in June. The bill would authorize $500 million for State Grants for Technology Readiness and Access.

The Transforming Education Through Technology Act has 15 House cosponsors and 2 Senate cosponsors.

 

Success in the Middle Act

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have reintroduced the Success in the Middle Act (H.R. 2316/S. 708). Under the bill, states are required to implement a middle school improvement plan that describes what students are required to know and do to successfully complete the middle grades and make the transition to succeed in an academically rigorous high school.

The Success in the Middle Act has 11 House cosponsors and 3 Senate cosponsors.

 

Graduation Promise Act

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) reintroduced the Graduation Promise Act (S. 940) in May. The bill would support the development of statewide systems of differentiated high school improvement that focuses research and evidence-based intervention on the lowest performing high schools, and improves the capacity of the high schools to decrease dropout rates and increase student achievement.

The Graduation Promise Act has no Senate cosponsors.

 

National Principals Month

On September 25, the Senate passed a resolution (S. Res. 260) recognizing October 2013 as National Principals Month. A companion resolution (H. Res. 353) was introduced in the House, and it currently has 11 cosponsors.

To date, 11 state associations (AK, AR, GA, IL, IA, MD, MO, ND, OK, PA and WY) have sent us proclamations or resolutions from their respective states in support of National Principals Month.

NASSP and NAESP have been working closely with the US Department of Education to build support for National Principals Month. US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan taped a video message thanking principals, and Department officials are scheduled to conduct shadowing visits with local principals the week of October 14 (this activity may be canceled due to the government shutdown).

 

Other Hill Activity

NASSP government relations staff met with staff for House Education and the Workforce Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) in August to discuss the NASSP board position statement on Parent Trigger and Empowerment Laws.

In September, NASSP government relations staff participated in the Coalition for Teaching Quality’s Day on the Hill to advocate against an extension in the exception to the Highly Qualified Teacher definition for teachers in training. Later that month, NASSP government relations staff attended a meeting with staff for Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to further discuss this issue.

In September, NASSP government relations staff attended the Committee for Education Funding’s Bake Sale on Capitol Hill to protest education funding cuts and sequestration and distributed cookie crumbs (“crumbs for education”) to congressional offices.

 

NASSP and the US Department of Education

Principal Ambassador Fellowship Program

The U.S. Department of Education reported in July that over 450 applications were submitted in June to secure a slot for the 2013-2014 Principal Ambassador Fellowship Program. The Principal Ambassador Program, known as “PAF, was established this year building on the success of the Teacher Ambassador Fellowship. After Department officials spent a day shadowing principals across the DC area during National Principals Month last October, one of the participants highlighted the lack of principals’ voices in dialogues surrounding education policy at a debrief event with Secretary Arne Duncan. The Secretary agreed with him, and then announced the creation of the PAF program at the 2013 NASSP Conference: Ignite in February 2013.

The PAF program is meant to recognize the important impact that a principal has on instructional leadership, the school environment, and talent management. NASSP and the National Association of Elementary School Principals worked to help establish the program to elevate the principal’s voice within the Department, and to help increase its efforts to build the capacity of principals.

The Department is expected to announce three principals who will serve as the 2013-2014 PAFs in November.

Meeting with Assistant Secretary Deb Delisle

NASSP government relations staff joined other association representatives from the Council of Chief State School Officers, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals to meet with Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deb Delisle in August as part of a series of regular bi-monthly meetings. The meeting focused on the process for states to renew their ESEA flexibility waivers.

Meeting with Office for Civil Rights

NASSP government relations staff and other members of the Coalition for Teaching Quality met with Seth Galanter, principal deputy assistant secretary in the Office for Civil Rights to discuss civil rights data collection and a specific question regarding the status of teachers-in-training.

 

Other Issues

In August, NASSP government relations staff participated in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) discussion on how national organizations in education and SAMHSA can collaborate and partner to prevent underage drinking.

NASSP government relations staff participated in an orientation session for the Teach for America Capitol Hill Fellows in August.

NASSP government relations staff participated in a panel discussion at the Skills USA Washington Leadership Training Institute in September.

 

NASSP Federal Grassroots Network

As a reminder, Federal Grassroots Network members no longer participate in quarterly calls (they are now reserved only for the State Coordinators), but they continue to receive the weekly update summarizing the latest news and events in federal policy and funding. If you or your colleagues are not yet members of the Federal Grassroots Network and would like to join please email Jacki Ball at ballj@nassp.org. For an overview of what membership in the Network involves, please go here: http://www.nassp.org/Legislative-Advocacy/NASSP-Federal-Grassroots-Network.

 

NASSP State Coordinators

NASSP welcomes several new coordinators to their roles: Will Parker (OK), Anna Battle (AZ), Justin Gross (IA), Karie McCrate (OH), John Fanning (AZ), Jim Smokrovich (MN), Sharon Pope (VA), and Tom Storer (NJ).

The NASSP State Coordinators held their quarterly conference calls on August 27 and 28. Attendees provided feedback on the new format of the Weekly Advocacy Update and the new Web page for State Coordinators. They also discussed the “Advocacy Asks” for September and October, including activities related to National Principals Month.

 

NASSP Advocacy in the States

In September, NASSP Manager of Government Relations Jacki Ball attended the Region 7 meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, to talk about the importance of grassroots advocacy and how principals can get more involved at the federal level.

NASSP Celebrates Connected Educators Month

On September 27, 2013, in Technology, by Amanda Karhuse

October is a big month to celebrate education. Not only are we leading the charge for National Principals Month, but NASSP is also involved in promoting the importance of connected leading and learning during Connected Educators Month. So we’re planning activities to pull the two initiatives together. Mark your calendars for a series of Twitter chats that we will host in cooperation with our friends at Connected Principals (#cpchat):

 

Wednesday, October 9, 8:00-9:00 p.m.  Topic: Encouraging our colleagues to become connected

Wednesday, October 16, 8:00-9:00 p.m. Topic: Getting recognition for informal professional development like online community participation

Wednesday, October 23, 8:00-9:00 p.m. Topic: What could schools do if we had ample, reliable broadband?

Wednesday, October 30, 8:00-9:00 p.m. Topic: TBC (to be crowdsourced)

 

We’ll identify facilitators over the next week. Just log on to Twitter at the appointed time and start following (and tweeting with) hashtag #cpchat. All the chats will be time well spent, but I would encourage those with a particular interest in E-rate to star the October 23 chat. NASSP has come out loudly in support of President Obama’s ConnectED proposal to ensure ample broadband access to 99% of student in the next five years. The October 23 chat will be a great opportunity to share ideas and showcase the possibilities that broadband access provides.

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NASSP is strongly supportive of the ConnectED initiative, which the Obama administration launched in June 2013 to increase broadband Internet access to schools across the country and improve digital learning opportunities for students.

At an event at Mooresville (NC) Middle School, President Obama called on the Federal Communications Commission to “modernize and leverage” the E-rate program to meet the administration’s new goal of connecting 99% of the nation’s students to the Internet through high-speed broadband and wireless over the next five years. The president also said that the US Department of Education would work with states and school districts to better use existing federal funds to “strategically invest in the kind of professional development to help teachers keep pace with changing technological and professional demands.”

“Broadband access affects students’ abilities to engage in technology-rich learning activities and acquire essential skills,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “The president’s ConnectEd initiative will help level the playing field so that all students have access to the same Internet speeds. This effort marks a step in the right direction, but we urge President Obama to also increase the annual funding cap for the E-rate program which is currently set at approximately $2.5 billion. E-rate funding would need to be doubled just to meet the current demand.”

At a Capitol Hill event sponsored by the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training in July, NASSP member and principal of Pottsgrove High School in Pottstown, PA, Bill Ziegler, spoke about his school’s technology program and the support they had received from the E-rate program. But he spoke more hesitantly about the future, stating that it would be difficult to keep up with increased bandwidth demands due to online assessments and e-text books among others.

In response to the president’s ConnectEd announcement, the FCC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to review and possibly modify virtually every aspect of the E-rate program with 3 overarching goals:

  • Ensuring schools and libraries have affordable access to 21st century broadband that supports digital learning;
  • Maximizing the cost-effectiveness of the E-rate program; and
  • Streamlining the administration of the E-rate program.

The FCC is asking educators to submit comments on the NPRM by September 16, and NASSP will be filing comments on behalf of middle and high school principals in coordination with the Education and Library Networks Coalition. If you are familiar with the E-rate program and would like to share recommendations with NASSP staff, please contact Amanda Karhuse, NASSP Director of Government Relations, at karhusea@nassp.org.

While NASSP is pleased with the proposal to increase broadband Internet access through the E-rate program, we are concerned that the administration is proposing to repurpose Title II funds for additional training on integrating education technology in classrooms. Appropriated at just over $3 billion annually, Title II is the only federal program to support class-size reduction and teacher and principal professional development programs, and there’s already not enough money to go around.

NASSP feels that there needs to be dedicated funding for education technology, which is why we support the Transforming Education through Technology Act (H.R. 521) and the Enhancing Education Through Technology Act (S. 1087). The legislation would require school districts to carry out “digital age” professional development opportunities for all school staff. Specifically, school leaders would receive ongoing professional development to promote: 1) the use of educational technology to ensure a digital age learning environment; and 2) the use of data in order to increase student access to technology and engagement in learning. School districts could also use the funding to hire technology coaches to work directly with teachers on integrating technology into their instruction.

NASSP continues to urge Congress to approve these bills through reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and we also call for restoration of a dedicated federal funding stream for education technology.

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Elementary and Secondary Education Act

While there seemed to be little optimism at the beginning of the year that the 113th Congress would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the month of June saw a LOT of activity of the issue.

Bipartisan negotiations on ESEA failed in the spring, so the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House education committees went their separate ways. At one point, four separate proposals were floating around Capitol Hill, but ultimately a Democratic proposal passed on the Senate side and a Republican proposal passed on the House side.

NASSP staff has heard that the full House may consider its legislation the week of July 15, but timing for Senate action is uncertain (No Child Left Behind was debated on the Senate floor for over 2 ½ weeks in 2001!). Even if both chambers are able to pass their respective proposals, it seems unlikely that a conference committee will be able to work on the differences in the two bills before the end of the 113th Congress. What seems to be a more likely scenario is that the US Department of Education will issue a proposal for states to renew their ESEA flexibility waivers in 2014.

As the ESEA proposals were being drafted, NASSP participated in a number of joint meetings with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and key congressional staff. Offices being visited this quarter include: Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA).

NASSP and NAESP also drafted joint letters to the leaders of the Senate and House education committees outlining our position on key issues for elementary, middle level and high school principals:

 

Summary of Senate ESEA Bill

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced legislation (S. 1094) on June 4 to reauthorize ESEA. Dropping the No Child Left Behind moniker, the bill is called the Strengthening American Schools Act and “provides a framework to get all children to graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills needed for success in college and/or a career” according to a bill summary.

The bill appropriately addresses the education reforms 37 states have adopted in order to receive an ESEA flexibility waiver from the US Department of Education. Those states would be able to maintain their newly adopted college and career-ready standards, accountability systems, and teacher and principal evaluation systems.

Title I

In order to receive Title I funding under the bill, states must adopt college and career ready student academic achievement standards and assessments in reading or language arts and mathematics by the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year. The new assessments should measure the individual academic achievement of each student and student academic growth, including a measurement of the number of years of academic growth each student attains each year. The assessments would also produce individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports that allow parents, teachers, and principals to understand and address the specific academic needs of students.

States must also adopt new science standards by December 31, 2014, but they would not be required to use the new standards in their accountability systems. They would also be required to adopt new high-quality English language proficiency standards by December 31, 2015.

All references to adequate yearly progress (AYP) are removed from the bill. Instead, states must demonstrate that they have developed a single, statewide accountability system that annually measures and reports on the achievement and growth of all students, establishes ambitious and achievable annual performance targets, and annually identifies schools that need supports and interventions to prepare college and career ready students. States would create a baseline for performance targets based on assessments given during the 2014-2015, and then they would be required to set targets in four areas: student proficiency, student academic growth, English language proficiency for English learners, and high school graduation rates.

The bill attempts to drive more Title I funding to high schools by requiring districts to use a feeder pattern to estimate the number of low-income students in high schools. The estimate would be calculated by applying the average percentage of students in low-income families of the elementary school attendance areas that feed into the high school to the number of students enrolled in such school.

Similar to the ESEA flexibility waivers, districts would be required to identify schools that are in need of locally designed interventions, that are focus schools, or that are priority schools. For each priority school, the district would conduct a needs analysis to determine the most appropriate school improvement strategies to improve student performance. Districts must also provide ongoing professional development consistent with the needs analysis and conduct regular evaluations of teachers and principals that provide specific feedback on areas of strength and in need of improvement.

For priority schools, districts must select a school improvement strategy similar to the school turnaround models under the current School Improvement Grants program. Under the Transformation and Turnaround strategies, the principal must be replaced if he or she has been in the school for more than two years. The bill includes a new Whole School Reform strategy that must be undertaken in partnership with an external provider and that is based on at least a moderate level of evidence that the program will have a statistically significant effect on student outcomes. States could also establish an alternative evidence-based school improvement strategy for priority schools with the approval of the US Department of Education.

NASSP was pleased to see that states receiving school improvement funds must develop an early warning data system that monitors school-level data and alerts schools when a student indicates slowed progress toward high school graduation. The language mirrors provisions in the Success in the Middle Act (S. 708) and the Graduation Promise Act (S. 940), which we strongly support.

School Leadership

Under Title II of the bill (Supporting Teacher and Principal Excellence), states must use 2-5% of funds to support school districts in improving the performance and equitable distribution of principals and other school leaders and providing technical assistance to support the design and implementation of teacher and principal evaluation systems. Part of the technical assistance would include training for principals and other evaluators on how to evaluate teachers in order to differentiate teacher performance accurately, provide useful feedback, and use evaluation results to inform decisionmaking about professional development, improvement strategies, and personnel decisions.

NASSP was very pleased to see the bill incorporate the text of the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act (S. 840), which would authorize a competitive grant program to recruit, support, and prepare principals and assistant principals to improve student academic achievement in high-need schools. The provision 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.

In order to receive the funding under Title II, states would have to assure the creation of a professional growth and improvement system no later than the 2015-2016 school year. For principals, the evaluation system would be based “in significant part” on evidence of improved student academic achievement and growth and evidence of providing strong instructional leadership and support to teachers and other staff. The evaluation system for principals could also include other measures of principal performance such as parent and family engagement.

While NASSP is pleased to see that the evaluation systems would be based on more than just student test scores, we would have preferred to see language similar to the report we released with the National Association of Elementary School Principals in September 2012. We recommend that evaluations should focus on six key domains of leadership responsibility within a principal’s sphere of influence: student growth and achievement, school planning and progress, school culture, stakeholder support and engagement, professional qualities and practices, and professional growth and learning.

Unfortunately, the bill includes provisions from the GREAT Teachers and Principals Act (S. 1052) as an allowable use of funds at the state level. The provision would authorize the establishment and operation of new principal preparation academies that we feel strongly would water down current state-developed principal licensure and certification requirements, recruit principal candidates with little-to-no background in education, and provide minimal clinical experience and mentoring.

Literacy

NASSP is pleased to see the inclusion of Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act (S. 758) in Senator Harkin’s bill. The “Improving Literacy Instruction and Student Achievement” portion of Title IV will provide federal support for states and LEAs to develop or improve, and implement comprehensive literacy programs from birth to grade 12. We have been working extensively on this bill and its inclusion in an ESEA reauthorization. However, we are disappointed to see that the allocation of funding for implementation of comprehensive literacy programming at the various grade levels is less than our endorsed allocations. We have recommended that not less than 40 percent of funding for implementation be directed to grades 6 through 12. The bill allocated not less than 30 percent. We believe the 40 percent allocation is essential to support the complexity of literacy demands for middle and high school students and is necessary due to a lack of resources and funding for secondary school literacy as compared to early childhood and elementary.

Additionally, in light of the adoption and implementation of new college and career ready standards, including the Common Core State Standards across the country, a renewed focus on comprehensive literacy education is crucial and necessary for all students to be college and career ready. These more rigorous standards will require the reorientation of literacy education as a systematic progression of skills across all grades. Specifically, the CCSS will require increased text complexity and inclusion of informational text, which will require more literacy instruction and support from birth throughout all levels of education. See NASSP’s Action Brief on “Implementing the Common Core State Standards: The Role of the Secondary School Leader” for more information on this topic.

Secondary Schools

As part of Title I, SASA establishes a competitive grant to support low-performing middle and high schools to implement innovative and effective reform strategies to increasing student achievement and graduation rates. The goal of the program is to engage students in high need and rural LEAs in rigorous course work while providing them with real-world and applicable learning opportunities. NASSP is very pleased to see that many of the provisions of this section include elements of the Success in the Middle Act (S. 708) and the Graduation Promise Act (S. 940). We are especially pleased that the bill requires LEAs receiving a grant under this program to implement an early warning indicator system to help high schools and their feeder middle schools to identify struggling students and provide them with supports to help them get on track to graduate from high school college and career-ready.

Furthermore, the bill requires a significant portion of grant monies to be used on both feeder middle and high schools for personalized learning, professional development for school leaders and teachers, competency based learning, flexibility for school leaders in budgetary and staffing, and the “redesign” of academic content and instructional practices. Additionally, other strategies identified for uses under this program are improved academic and career counseling and exploration, and in-school academy models. Amplified opportunities for post-secondary credit through the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, dual enrollment, and early college high school programs are also featured strategies for secondary school improvement. Many elements of this portion of the bill closely mirror the President’s High School Redesign Program.

Lastly, to foster the “pathway to college,” SASA provides for increased access to AP and IB course work in high need schools. The bill also creates an AP & IB fee program which provides grants to states to pay all or part of the costs associated with examination fees for students. It also proposes a competitive grant program to increase the number of AP and IB teachers and course offerings in high need schools.

School Climate, Mental Health, and Non-Discrimination

In addition to the inclusion of NASSP supported legislation on school leadership and literacy, Senator Al Franken’s (D-MN), Student Non-Discrimination Act (S. 1088) was also incorporated in the Strengthening America’s Schools Act (SASA). We are pleased to see additional protections to our nation’s students regardless of their sexual orientation. The bill would enhance current federal protections against discriminatory practices and ensure “effective remedies for discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Also included in Senator Harkin’s ESEA reauthorization bill are reporting requirements on elements of school climate which are a part of new accountability report cards. States and school districts would be required to report on data related to:

  • Student discipline
  • Pregnant and parenting students
  • Rates of school violence, bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, in and out of school suspensions, expulsions, referrals to  law enforcement, school-based arrests, disciplinary transfers and student  detentions
  • Implementation of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS)
  • LEA implementation of school-based mental health programs

Furthermore, the bill also addresses school climate in assisting schools to “foster positive conditions for learning in public schools to increase achievement for all students.” SASA provides federal assistance to states to address the physical and mental health and well-being of students, prevent violence, harassment and other destructive behaviors, and promote safe and supportive schools.

NASSP has been active in supporting all educators to address school climate and create safe and supportive school environments for all children. In April, NASSP along with other organizations released A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools, which offers recommendations for improved school safety and access to mental health services for students.

NASSP and its partner organizations agree that efforts to improve school climate, safety, and student learning are not separate endeavors and must be designed, funded, and implemented as a comprehensive school-wide approach. We also caution against an emphasis on overly restrictive security measures, such as armed guards and metal detectors, which can undermine school climate and student learning.

Summary of Senate Republicans’ ESEA Proposal

Since bipartisan negotiations on legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) failed last month, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and other committee Republicans introduced their own proposal to improve current law. In a stark contrast to the Democratic proposal released on June 4 at a whopping 1,100+ pages, the Every Child Ready for College and Career Act streamlines most federal education programs to a mere 211 pages.

In general, the purpose of the bill is to reduce the federal footprint in education policy and “to restore freedom to parents, teachers, principals, Governors, and local communities so that they can improve their local public schools.” To do so, the legislation would prohibit the US Department of Education from issuing regulations to prescribe standards or measures that states and districts would use to establish state standards, assessments, accountability systems, systems that measure student growth, measures of other academic indicators, or teacher or principal evaluation systems.

In order to receive Title I funding, states must provide an assurance that they have adopted “challenging” academic content standards and student academic achievement standards in math, reading or language arts, and science, and implemented “high-quality” yearly student academic assessments that will be used as the primary means of determining the performance of schools. The assessments should involve multiple up-to-date measures of student academic achievement, including measures that assess higher-order thinking skills and understanding. In a move away from the Democratic proposal, the bill would continue to allow states to assess students with disabilities based on modified academic achievement standards.

States must also assure that they have developed and are implementing a single, statewide accountability system “to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce without the need for remediation.” The system should annually identify and differentiate all public schools in the state, taking into consideration achievement gaps between student subgroups, overall performance of all students, and high school graduation rates.

The system should also identify schools that are in need of strategies for improving student academic achievement and provide assistance to districts to develop and implement appropriate strategies for improving identified schools. Districts would be required to develop assistance strategies, which may include:

  • Replacing the principal who led the school before implementation of the strategy;
  • Screening and replacing teachers who are not effective in improving student achievement;
  • Giving the school sufficient operational flexibility in programming, staffing, budgeting, and scheduling;
  • Providing ongoing, high-quality professional development to instructional staff;
  • Creating incentives for recruiting and retaining staff with the skills that are necessary to meet the needs of the students in the school;
  • Implementing a research-based instructional program aligned with the state’s challenging academic standards;
  • Converting the school to a charter school;
  • Closing the school and enrolling the students in other schools that are higher performing;
  • Adopting a new governance structure for the school; or
  • Developing other strategies that the district deems appropriate to address the needs of students in identified schools.

Just over $3 billion would be authorized for Title II, and the allowable state activities look very similar to current law with regard to school leaders: reforming principal certification and licensure so that principals have the instructional leadership skills to help students meet challenging state standards, developing and improving evaluation systems that “shall be based in significant part on evidence of student growth,” establishing alternative routes to the principalship, developing new principal induction and mentoring programs, implementing high-quality professional development programs for principals, and supporting efforts to train principals to effectively integrate technology into curricula and instruction. In order to receive a subgrant from states, districts must conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to determine the schools with the most acute staffing needs.

Similar to the bill passed by the House Education and the Workforce Committee in 2012, the Every Child Ready for College and Career Act aims to provide states and districts with maximum flexibility in using federal funds. Essentially, all programs not included in Titles I or II would be consolidated into two block grants, and funding would be allocated to districts based on the results of a comprehensive needs assessment. Unfortunately, this would include a number of programs NASSP members deem essential in their schools, including School Leadership, the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program, education technology, school counseling, and mental health and bullying prevention programs.

The legislation would also eliminate Maintenance of Effort (MoE), which helps ensure the continuity of state and local funding efforts. Current MoE provisions provide the greatest protection to low-wealth districts that generally educate more low-income students. We’re concerned that if states are allowed to cut funding for education, the most vulnerable districts, serving the neediest students, could be hurt disproportionately.

Senate HELP Committee Markup

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee spent two days debating a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Strengthen America Schools Act (S. 1094), which would overhaul what is currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), ultimately passed on June 12 by a party-line vote of 12-10. All Democrats on the committee approved the bill and all Republicans opposed it.

“What I think we all recognize is that it is time to update the law to ensure that every child in this nation receives a great education,” said Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) during his opening remarks. “This is a matter of basic fairness, and is critical to America’s economic strength in the competitive global marketplace.”

Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) offered the text of the Every Child Ready for College and Career Act (S. 1101) as a substitute amendment, but it failed on a party-line vote after nearly 90 minutes of debate about the appropriate federal role in education. To demonstrate their opinion that the Democratic proposal would diminish the responsibility of states and districts, Republican members often referred to the bill as “NCLB on steroids,” and stated their opposition to the creation of a “national school board.” Sen. Alexander argued that his proposal “places responsibility for helping our children learn squarely where it ought to be–on states and communities, and it does that by giving teachers and parents more freedom, flexibility, and choice.”

When the substitute amendment was defeated, Republican members offered certain provisions of S. 1101 as amendments. They included proposals to remove all new programs in the bill, reduce the requirements on statewide accountability systems, remove the “highly qualified teacher” requirement under NCLB and mandatory teacher and principal evaluation requirements, roll back the Common Core State Standards, lift the cap on alternate and modified assessments for students with disabilities, remove the comparability requirement for Title I funding, allow parents to use public funds to send their children to private schools, and eliminate the Race to the Top program among others. None of the Republican amendments were approved during the markup except for one offered by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to support the Alaska Native Educational Equity program.

A number of Democratic amendments were approved during the markup, including these supported by NASSP

  • an amendment by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to create a new report-only subgroup for students from military families
  • an amendment by Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) to require extended learning time as part of the Turnaround and Transformation school improvement strategies;
  • an amendment by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to encourage dual enrollment and early college high school programs in ESEA; and

NASSP was disappointed that the committee rejected an amendment offered by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) that would have created an Office of Rural Education at the US Department of Education. We have long supported a bill (S. 1096) by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) with the same purpose.

Chairman Harkin says that he has received approval from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to bring the bill to the Senate floor when there is time on the calendar, but it remains unclear where the bill will go from there.

Summary of House ESEA Bill

Not even a full week after the Senate HELP Committee held a 2-day session to consider the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the House Education and the Workforce Committee is scheduled to debate its own version of the bill on June 19. It’s deja vu on Capitol Hill because bipartisan negotiations have failed and the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) that was introduced by Chairman John Kline (R-MN) is expected to garner only Republican support…which is exactly what happened when the committee considered a very similar bill in 2012.

“Adequate yearly progress” would be ended under the Student Success Act, and instead states would be required to develop and implement a single, statewide accountability system to ensure that all public school students graduate from high school prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce without the need for remediation. One major change from the 2012 proposal is that the bill will reinstate the requirement that states adopt new statewide standards and assessments in science.

The system should annually evaluate and identify the academic performance of each public school in the state based on student academic achievement taking into consideration achievement gaps between subgroups and overall performance of students. It must also include a system for school improvement for low-performing schools that implements interventions designed to address schools’ weaknesses and is implemented by the district. The bill also prohibits the US Department of Education from establishing any criteria that specifies, defines or prescribes any aspect of a state’s accountability system.

H.R. 5 would also eliminate the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program and instead allow states to implement their own turnaround strategies. While we’re pleased that this would remove the four school turnaround models that require the principal’s replacement as a condition for receiving federal funding, NASSP is concerned that this would eliminate the only dedicated funding stream for low-performing middle and high schools.

NASSP was disappointed to see that the bill would authorize funding for Title I at $16.6 billion for FY 2014-2019, which is the same amount appropriated by Congress for FY 2012. As the committee’s own fact sheet notes, this amount is “lower than just the Title I authorization for the last year it was authorized” under No Child Left Behind in 2001. This is obviously unacceptable for the many schools serving low-income students that are eligible for Title I funds, including the middle and high schools that never receive such funding because of the high need in their feeder elementary schools.

NASSP is concerned that the bill broadens the definition of “school leader” to include superintendents and other district officials. We firmly believe that the term should be defined to mean only a principal, assistant principal or other individual who is an employee or officer of a school.

States receiving Title II funds under the bill would be required to implement a teacher evaluation system that uses student achievement data derived from a variety of sources as a significant factor in determining a teacher’s evaluation. The evaluation system should use multiple measures of evaluation, have more than two categories for rating the performance of teachers, and be used to make personnel decisions. NASSP supports the requirement that states provide training to school leaders in the evaluation systems. School districts could also use Title II funding to develop and implement a school leader evaluation system and to provide professional development for teachers and school leaders that is evidence-based, job-embedded, and continuous.

The Student Success Act also includes a provision from the 2012 “kill bill” that would eliminate 42 education programs—many of which are strongly supported by NASSP and our members. They include School Leadership, the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program, the Enhancing Education through Technology program, Dropout Prevention, and others.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Markup

If they keep records for the fastest hearing, I think Wednesday’s House Committee on Education and the Workforce markup on the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, wins first prize! The Committee held a morning session from 9:00am until 10:45am where they discussed the competing proposals from Chairman Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Miller (D-CA). The Committee reconvened after the unveiling of the Fredrick Douglass statue in the Capitol at 12:15pm and finished at 1:15pm with three votes.

The Student Success Act was reported favorably out of the Committee on a party line vote, with all Republicans supporting the bill and Democrats opposed. The hearing did not produce any spirited debate as everyone in the room knew what the outcome would be. The only amendments offered where Ranking Member Miller’s substitute, Rep. Joe Heck’s (R-NV) amendment that would allow local school districts to expand dual enrollment and early college programs using Title I, II and III dollars to do so, and Rep. Glenn Thompson’s (R-PA) amendment to alter the Title I formula which shortchanges some districts.

Both Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Miller both expressed their desire to work with Rep. Thompson on this issue, and he respectfully withdrew his amendment. Rep. Heck’s amendment was approved on a voice vote and Rep. Miller’s substitute was voted down on a party line vote.

NASSP, along with NAESP, responded to both Chairman Kline’s Student Success Act and Rep. Miller’s substitute amendment in letters to each member.

ESEA Flexibility Waivers

Currently, thirty-nine states plus D.C. have been approved for waivers, and six states’ requests are still outstanding: Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming. And while California was denied its request for a waiver, 10 California school districts have applied for a customized waiver. Four states have yet to apply: Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Vermont.

 

FY 2014 Budget & Appropriations

FY 2014 Budget

On April 10, President Obama released his FY14 budget proposal, which seeks an increase of $3.1 billion over last year’s pre-sequester enacted level. In K-12 education, the president proposed increased funding for school leadership and competitive grant programs.

Signaling a renewed focus on the principalship, the president requested $98 million for the School Leadership program—a dramatic increase over previous levels. As Secretary Duncan stated in his testimony to the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, “This proposal would promote evidence-based professional development for current school leaders aimed at strengthening essential leadership skills—such as evaluating and providing feedback to teachers, analyzing student data, developing school leadership teams, and creating a positive school climate.”

Outside of that increase, nearly all of the president’s newly proposed K–12 education funding is for competitive grant programs, including the proposed High School Redesign program. The president requested $300 million to promote the whole school redesign of the high school experience to provide students with challenging and relevant academic and career-related learning to prepare them for postsecondary education and careers. Under the proposed program, special consideration would be given to partnerships located in areas with limited access to quality career and college opportunities such as high-poverty or rural LEAs. As NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti said in a statement on the budget proposal, “We welcome the president to the conversation about high school redesign, and we commit to helping the administration make the most of its proposed investment.”

At the same time, NASSP remains concerned that funds are being directed toward competitive grant programs at the expense of foundational formula-funded programs. The president requested that funding for Title I and IDEA—two core formula funded programs—be frozen at FY12 levels. The NASSP Board of Directors recently noted in a position statement that, “Federal funding should help achieve equity, not exacerbate inequity. For this reason, competitive grants that by nature award only some, not all, eligible entities, should be authorized and implemented only when Congress identifies an opportunity to help achieve equity through the form of a competitive grant.”

The president’s budget also included a reduction in Impact Aid from FY12 levels and the consolidation of several important programs. Striving Readers and the High School Graduation Initiative are proposed to be consolidated into broader programming entities. Unfortunately, consolidating programs, including some with different goals, will pit them against each other in competition for funding.

Typically, the president’s budget provides the framework for the congressional budget process, but since both houses have already produced their budget resolutions, it will be interesting to see how the president’s proposal influences the appropriations process.

NASSP staff and representatives from the Alliance for Excellent Education met with congressional staff in April to discuss the Obama administration’s proposal for high school redesign. Offices being visited this quarter include: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI). In May, NASSP staff met with staff for the House Budget Committee to discuss “backpack funding.”

FY 2014 Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill for FY 2014 on July 11. No date has yet been scheduled for the House Appropriations Committee, but rumors are already flying on Capitol Hill that Congress will not be able to complete all 12 appropriations bills before the new fiscal year starts on October 1, 2013. Insiders are speculating that Congress will instead pass a year-long continuing resolution funding most education programs at their current FY 2013 levels.

NASSP staff and members of the Committee for Education Funding met with staff for Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) in June to discuss funding and federal investments in education.

 

Common Core State Standards

In May, NASSP joined with NAESP, AASA: the School Superintendents’ Association, and the National School Boards Association to urge “adequate time” for CCSS implementation before scores from the assessments are used for accountability purposes. Specifically, our organizations call for a delay in invoking penalties and sanctions related to test scores on schools, principals, and teachers until we have had at least two years of experience with the assessments.

http://www.nassp.org/tabid/3788/default.aspx?topic=School_Leadership_Groups_Urge_quot_Adequate_Time_quot_to_Implement_Common_Core_Standards

Less than a month after issuing our statement, the US Department of Education announced that states could request additional flexibility under ESEA to delay any personnel consequences for teachers and principals tied to the new Common Core assessments for up to one year, until 2016-17.

http://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/06/new-flexibility-for-states-implementing-fast-moving-reforms-laying-out-our-thinking/

 

School Safety

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, NASSP has been actively meeting with White House officials and members of Congress to share our recommendations on gun violence prevention and other school safety issues.

National Conference on Mental Health

On June 3, NASSP staff participated in the National Conference on Mental Health that was hosted by the White House. The White House hosted a National Conference on Mental Health today to raise awareness about mental health issues. Attendees included representatives from education and mental health organizations, members of Congress and Cabinet members, and celebrities such as actress Glenn Close and actor Bradley Cooper.

A press statement issued by the White House said that the conference was designed to increase understanding and awareness of mental health. As part of this effort, the Administration also launched www.mentalhealth.gova new website with tools to help with the basics of mental health, the signs of mental illness, how to talk about mental health, and how to get help. The website also includes a series of videos featuring celebrities and ordinary Americans whose lives have been touched by mental illness.

In his opening remarks, President Barack Obama talked about the stigma related to mental illness, but he urged that people need to talk about mental health and get treatment in the same manner as if they were suffering from heart disease or other health conditions. The President shared the commitments of various organizations partnering on this issue and announced that secondary school principals would be holding assemblies to raise mental health awareness later this year. NASSP had urged its members to host such an event before the end of 2013, and middle and high school leaders can still express their commitment at www.nassp.org/mentalhealth.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hosted a panel session that highlighted organizations using social media and other tools to promote awareness of mental health. He said that young people must have access to mental health services in order to achieve their academic potential.

In response to a question about how schools can be more involved in promoting mental wellbeing, Duncan cited examples of schools that are serving as hubs of the community. They should be a location where students, educators, and members of the community can go if they need help and to access services. Duncan also said that the administration’s budget proposal would provide additional funding for schools to be able to hire school counselors, psychologists and social workers. He reminded attendees that Congress will need to approve the funding through the FY 2014 appropriations process in a tough budget environment, stating “we have to invest in education in a very different way.”

Vice President Joe Biden closed the conference by reminding attendees that the most vulnerable age for mental illness is between 16 and 25 and these individuals are also often the least likely to seek help. He said that all educators need training on how to recognize mental health problems in students and be able to refer them to appropriate services. His ultimate hope for the conference would be to make it clear to all Americans that there is no distinction between a mental health problem and a fiscal problem.

A Framework on Safe and Successful Schools

NASSP joined with NAESP, American School Counselor Association, National Association of School Psychologists, School Social Work Association of America, National Association of School Resource Officers in April to issue A Framework on Safe and Successful Schools which outlines policy recommendations and best practices to improve school safety and improve access to mental health supports.

 

Education Technology

ConnectEd

Principals are applauding the launch of the Obama administration’s new ConnectEd initiative to increase broadband Internet access to schools across the country over the next five years. Results of a new NASSP survey of nearly 750 middle and high school principals demonstrate that the new initiative aligns with students’ needs for improved connectivity.

Earlier today, the president called on the FCC to “modernize and leverage” its E-rate program to meet the administration’s new goal of connecting 99% of the nation’s students to the Internet through high-speed broadband and wireless. President Obama also called on the private sector to help support this vision.

Although more than half (63%) of the respondents in the survey said that their schools have “adequate” broadband Internet access, three-quarters (75%) strongly agreed that improved broadband access in their schools would allow students to engage in more powerful learning activities. Six in 10 principals said that their teachers are prepared to maximize the use of expanded broadband in instruction.

Among the principals surveyed, there was a strong divide between those who had adequate access in their schools and those who struggled with overloaded networks and slow connections—or even no Internet at all. Some principals said that slow Internet speeds became especially burdensome during testing, which could quickly prove problematic as the majority of the nation’s schools transition to online testing under the Common Core State Standards.

“Broadband access affects students’ abilities to engage in technology-rich learning activities and acquire essential skills,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “The president’s ConnectEd initiative will help level the playing field so that all students have access to the same Internet speeds. This effort marks a step in the right direction, but we urge President Obama to also increase the annual funding cap for the E-rate program which is currently set at approximately $2.5 billion. E-rate funding would need to be doubled just to meet the current demand.”

NASSP staff participated in a meeting at the Alliance for Excellent Education with senior White House, FCC, and US Department of Education officials in June to discuss the ConnectEd initiative.

 

FCC Proposal to Modernize E-Rate Program Gathers Momentum

(Education Week, July 1, 2013)

The acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission on Friday took initial steps in what is expected to be a broad effort to remake the federal E-rate program and provide schools with faster online connectivity, putting forward a proposal that mirrors goals outlined by President Obama earlier this month.

Mignon L. Clyburn, who was appointed to the FCC by the president, was expected today to provide the two other current members of the panel with a proposal that calls for not only improving technology infracture, but also making changes to the program’s purchasing and the administrative oversight, according to a senior commission official.

While any changes to the E-rate would have go through a federal rulemaking and public comment process, Clyburn’s initial proposal represents a road map for refashioning the program, the official said.

An overriding goal of Clyburn’s proposal—which was not provided to Education Week in written form—is to increase schools’ and libraries’ access to high-speed Internet access, in keeping with the presidents’ goal of giving 99 percent of the country’s schools access to high-speed broadband and wireless Web access within five years.

Clyburn is also calling for increasing the efficiency of the E-rate and making sure that funds are spent wisely, and improving management of program, which was first established by Congress in 1996 and is funded through telecommunications fees.

Included within Clyburn’s proposal are changes meant to simplify the rules on the development of fiber optic cable lines and the establishment of high-speed wireless connections within districts, including within classrooms, the FCC official said. Her proposal also calls for new options to create incentives for consortia of schools to make purchases within the E-rate program. In addition, it seeks to spark greater competition among bidders to provide E-rate services to schools and libraries.

In an op-ed published Friday in USA Today, Clyburn also called for eliminating government support for outdated services and using E-rate dollars to invest in improving bandwidth. She also suggested that federal officials must partner with nonprofit and private sector providers to improve schools’ tech capacity.

“[W]e need to use this opportunity to bring to the table state and local officials, foundations, network operators, and innovators building the next generation of learning tools and content,” she wrote. “We must leverage the ongoing massive private investments in networks and ensure that investments in connectivity are the foundation for real, positive change in classrooms.”

The chairwoman’s intention is to allow the two other commissioners, Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Ajit Pai, to review her proposal and make changes to it over the next three weeks. The commission would then vote on the proposal at its meeting on July 19.

After that, the FCC would propose rules and begin a process for collecting public comments, a period that can last a few months. After that, the FCC would publish final rules on changes to the E-rate, the commission official said.

Pai declined to comment on the request, through his office. Rosenworcel has not yet responded to a request for comment. But the Democrat has repeatedly called for making major changes to the E-rate, including boosting schools’ technological capabilities, most recently doing so this week in a speech at the International Society for Technology in Education’s national conference in San Antonio.

NASSP on Capitol Hill

 

NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year Program

The state and national assistant principals of the year conducted over 125 meetings with their members of Congress on Thursday, April 11. They shared their perspectives on school leadership and their experiences as educators and instructional leaders. In addition, the national winner and finalists participated in a roundtable discussion with the education policy advisors from Rep. Kline and Rep. Miller’s offices on the role of assistant principals, college and career ready/Common Core standards, teacher and principal evaluation and technology.

 

MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools

On May 2, the MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School principals conducted over 50 Hill meetings with education aides in the House and Senate to discuss pertinent education issues. The same day, NASSP and the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) hosted a Hill briefing on Transitioning to College & Career Ready Standards:  The Role of School Leaders.  Three of the 2013 winners, Mitchell Curry (Scott Morgan Johnson Middle School, TX), Robbie Hooker (Clarke Central High School, GA) and Daniel Wiebers (Trenton R-IX High School, MO) participated in the panel discussion with Governor Bob Wise, President of AEE, and House and Senate Education Committee staff.

 

NASSP State Coordinators and Presidents-Elect

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:

  • School Principal Recruitment and Training Act
  • Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act
  • Transforming Education Through Technology Act
  • Success in the Middle Act
  • Graduation Promise Act

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.

 

School Principal Recruitment and Training Act

 

NASSP and NAESP have worked closely with staff for Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) to update and improve the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act (S. 840/H.R. 1736). Although the bill was not reintroduced during the 112th Congress, we were thrilled that the legislation was reintroduced in April. The bill would authorize a grant program to recruit, select, train, and support aspiring or current principals with track records of transforming student learning and outcomes and prepare these principals to lead high-need schools. Selected aspiring principals would be provided with a pre-service residency that lasts for at least one year as well as ongoing support and professional development for at least two years after they commence work as school leaders. Grant funds would also be used to provide mentoring and professional development to strengthen current principals’ capacity in the areas of instruction, supervision, evaluation, and development of teachers and highly effective school organizations.

NASSP and NAESP have organized a sign-on letter for national and state organizations in support of the bill, and the 80+ members of the Coalition for Teaching Quality to include the bill as one of their top legislative priorities this year.

The School Principal Recruitment and Training Act currently has 5 House cosponsors and 1 Senate cosponsor.

 

LEARN Act

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) reintroduced the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act (S. 758) in April, and we expect Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) to reintroduce the bill sometime this summer.

The LEARN Act would authorize $2.35 billion for comprehensive state and local literacy initiatives, building on the best components of the federal Early Reading First, Reading First, and Striving Readers programs. Districts would support school-wide literacy initiatives that include professional development for principals and teachers to incorporate literacy across the curriculum and targeted interventions for struggling students. NASSP has been working with its coalition partner, Advocates for Literacy, to ensure the bill’s reintroduction in the 113th Congress.

The LEARN Act has 4 Senate cosponsors.

In May, Advocates for Literacy (including NASSP) hosted a congressional briefing to discuss the link between science and literacy, the preconditions necessary for successful STEM education and the LEARN Act. Panelists included Dr. Brenda Becker, Superintendent of Schools, Hempfield School District, Landisville, PA, Mr. Chris Bird, M.Ed., Physics Teacher, Fairfax High School, Fairfax, VA and Dr. Loren Blanchard, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Xavier University of Louisiana. Ms. Sarah Bolton, M.Ed, Senior Budget and Policy Advisor for Sen. Patty Murray (WA) also spoke on the implications for federal policy and the LEARN Act.

NASSP staff and other members of Advocates for Literacy met with staff for House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) in June to ensure that his substitute amendment to the ESEA reauthorization bill included the text of the LEARN Act.

 

Transforming Education Through Technology Act

House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Transforming Education through Technology Act (H.R. 521) earlier this year, and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) introduced a companion bill (S. 1087) in June. This is brand new legislation that NASSP has added to its advocacy agenda during the 113th Congress.

The Transforming Education through Technology Act would authorize $500 million for State Grants for Technology Readiness and Access. Subgrants would be provided to school districts to carry out “digital age” professional development opportunities for all school staff. Specifically, school leaders would receive ongoing professional development to promote: 1) the use of educational technology to ensure a digital age learning environment; and 2) the use of data in order to increase student access to technology and engagement in learning. School districts could also use the funding to hire technology coaches to work directly with teachers on integrating technology into their instruction.

NASSP staff and representatives from other national organizations that support education technology conducted meetings with congressional staff to secure more cosponsors for the Transforming Education Through Technology Act. Offices being visited this quarter included: Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC).

The Transforming Education Through Technology Act has 10 House cosponsors and 2 Senate cosponsors.

 

Success in the Middle Act

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have reintroduced the Success in the Middle Act (H.R. 2316/S. 708). Under the bill, states are required to implement a middle school improvement plan that describes what students are required to know and do to successfully complete the middle grades and make the transition to succeed in an academically rigorous high school. School districts would receive grants to help them invest in proven intervention strategies, including professional development and coaching for school leaders, teachers, and other school personnel; and student supports such as personal academic plans, intensive reading and math interventions, and extended learning time.

The Success in the Middle Act has 9 House cosponsors and 3 Senate cosponsors.

In June, NASSP and members of the Middle Grades Coalition hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss absenteeism in the middle grades. One of the 2013 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools was highlighted during the discussion.

 

Graduation Promise Act

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) reintroduced the Graduation Promise Act (S. 940) in May, and Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) will reintroduce a companion measure in the House later this summer. The bill would support the development of statewide systems of differentiated high school improvement that focuses research and evidence-based intervention on the lowest performing high schools, and improves the capacity of the high schools to decrease dropout rates and increase student achievement. The bill would also provide competitive grants to states to identify statewide obstacles hindering students from graduating, and provide incentives for states to increase graduation rates.

The Graduation Promise Act has no Senate cosponsors.

 

NASSP and the White House

MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year Program

In April, the 2013 MetLife/NASSP National High School and Middle Level Principals of the Year were invited to participate in a Rose Garden ceremony with President Obama and the 2013 National and State Teachers of the Year. These outstanding principals were also able to meet briefly with the President in the Oval Office before the event. View photos from the event on NASSP’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/principals.

High School Redesign

In May, NASSP staff participated in a meeting with senior White House and US Department of Education officials to discuss the administration’s proposal on high school redesign and career and technical education.

 

NASSP and the US Department of Education

Principal Ambassador Fellowship Program

The U.S. Department of Education released the application for its inaugural Principal Ambassador Fellowship program in June. For a one-year term (2013-14), Campus Principal Ambassador Fellows will work part-time in collaboration with the department’s regional and DC offices while continuing to serve as principals in their home schools. This position will provide outstanding principals with the opportunity to highlight the voice of the principal within the education community and the country at-large. The idea for the principal fellowship came out of a discussion following an event hosted by NASSP and NAESP, in which Department of Education officials shadowed DC-area principals during National Principals Month.

To be eligible, candidates must:

  • Serve as a preK-12 principal during the 2013-14 school year in a US school, including traditional public, charter, virtual, military, tribal and/or private schools
  • Have a minimum of  three (3) years of successful experience as a principal (if the 2012-13 school-year is a principal’s third year as principal, s/he is eligible)
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have the ability to  gain employer support to sign an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) agreement for participation in the program.

Note: Some schools may use different terminology than “principal.” A candidate is considered eligible despite titling differences provided that s/he is the highest administrative official in the school building.

The deadline to submit an application is July 16, 2013.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/District_Dossier/2013/06/applications_for_principal_amb.html?qs=principal+ambassador

Meeting with Assistant Secretary Deb Delisle

NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti and NASSP government relations staff joined other association representatives from the Council of Chief State School Officers, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals to meet with Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deb Delisle in April as part of a series of regular bi-monthly meetings. The meeting focused on the administration’s early childhood education proposals.

JoAnn Bartoletti, Mel Riddile and Amanda Karhuse also met with Deb Delisle and her chief of staff in June to discuss Common Core implementation. The conversation centered on the fact that implementation will not end when the assessments roll out in 2014-2015.  There was agreement that there needs to be continued professional development and training for school leaders and teachers for successful implementation.  There will be follow-up meetings with NASSP and Department of Education staff surrounding these issues.

 

Other Issues

NASSP staff participated in a panel discussion at the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnership (NACEP) Policy Seminar in May to discuss dual enrollment and high school and college partnerships.

NASSP Board Position Statements

At the May meeting, the NASSP Board of Directors adopted two new position statements.

Federal Funding for Formula and Competitive Grants

Parent Trigger Laws

 

NASSP Federal Grassroots Network

As a reminder, Federal Grassroots Network members no longer participate in quarterly calls (they are now reserved only for the State Coordinators), but they continue to receive the weekly update summarizing the latest news and events in federal policy and funding. If you or your colleagues are not yet members of the Federal Grassroots Network and would like to join please email Jacki Ball at ballj@nassp.org. For an overview of what membership in the Network involves, please go here: http://www.nassp.org/Legislative-Advocacy/NASSP-Federal-Grassroots-Network.

 

NASSP State Coordinators

NASSP welcomes several new coordinators to their roles: John Osgood (NE), Sheila Kahrs (GA), and Dan Richards (MA). We also welcome back Danny Brackett who has returned to the State Coordinator role in Arkansas.

The NASSP State Coordinators held their quarterly conference calls on May 14 and May 15. The conversations focused on their advocacy during the past quarter and what methods they felt were most effected in communicating with their members of Congress and their staff. NASSP staff will follow up with a calendar of activities for the rest of the fiscal year later this month.

 

NASSP Advocacy in the States

In April, NASSP Director of Government Relations Amanda Karhuse conducted two breakout sessions on federal education policy and the power of grassroots advocacy at the Montana Association of Secondary School Principals’ conference in Bozeman, Montana.

IMG_6307

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.

Since bipartisan negotiations on legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) failed last month, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and other committee Republicans today introduced their own proposal to improve current law. In a stark contrast to the Democratic proposal released on June 4 at a whopping 1,100+ pages, the Every Child Ready for College and Career Act streamlines most federal education programs to a mere 211 pages.

In general, the purpose of the bill is to reduce the federal footprint in education policy and “to restore freedom to parents, teachers, principals, Governors, and local communities so that they can improve their local public schools.” To do so, the legislation would prohibit the US Department of Education from issuing regulations to prescribe standards or measures that states and districts would use to establish state standards, assessments, accountability systems, systems that measure student growth, measures of other academic indicators, or teacher or principal evaluation systems.

In order to receive Title I funding, states must provide an assurance that they have adopted “challenging” academic content standards and student academic achievement standards in math, reading or language arts, and science, and implemented “high-quality” yearly student academic assessments that will be used as the primary means of determining the performance of schools. The assessments should involve multiple up-to-date measures of student academic achievement, including measures that assess higher-order thinking skills and understanding. In a move away from the Democratic proposal, the bill would continue to allow states to assess students with disabilities based on modified academic achievement standards.

States must also assure that they have developed and are implementing a single, statewide accountability system “to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce without the need for remediation.” The system should annually identify and differentiate all public schools in the state, taking into consideration achievement gaps between student subgroups, overall performance of all students, and high school graduation rates.

The system should also identify schools that are in need of strategies for improving student academic achievement and provide assistance to districts to develop and implement appropriate strategies for improving identified schools. Districts would be required to develop assistance strategies, which may include:

  • Replacing the principal who led the school before implementation of the strategy;
  • Screening and replacing teachers who are not effective in improving student achievement;
  • Giving the school sufficient operational flexibility in programming, staffing, budgeting, and scheduling;
  • Providing ongoing, high-quality professional development to instructional staff;
  • Creating incentives for recruiting and retaining staff with the skills that are necessary to meet the needs of the students in the school;
  • Implementing a research-based instructional program aligned with the state’s challenging academic standards;
  • Converting the school to a charter school;
  • Closing the school and enrolling the students in other schools that are higher performing;
  • Adopting a new governance structure for the school; or
  • Developing other strategies that the district deems appropriate to address the needs of students in identified schools.

Just over $3 billion would be authorized for Title II, and the allowable state activities look very similar to current law with regard to school leaders: reforming principal certification and licensure so that principals have the instructional leadership skills to help students meet challenging state standards, developing and improving evaluation systems that “shall be based in significant part on evidence of student growth,” establishing alternative routes to the principalship, developing new principal induction and mentoring programs, implementing high-quality professional development programs for principals, and supporting efforts to train principals to effectively integrate technology into curricula and instruction. In order to receive a subgrant from states, districts must conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to determine the schools with the most acute staffing needs.

Similar to the bill passed by the House Education and the Workforce Committee in 2012, the Every Child Ready for College and Career Act aims to provide states and districts with maximum flexibility in using federal funds. Essentially, all programs not included in Titles I or II would be consolidated into two block grants, and funding would be allocated to districts based on the results of a comprehensive needs assessment. Unfortunately, this would include a number of programs NASSP members deem essential in their schools, including School Leadership, the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program, education technology, school counseling, and mental health and bullying prevention programs.

The legislation would also eliminate Maintenance of Effort (MoE), which helps ensure the continuity of state and local funding efforts. Current MoE provisions provide the greatest protection to low-wealth districts that generally educate more low-income students. We’re concerned that if states are allowed to cut funding for education, the most vulnerable districts, serving the neediest students, could be hurt disproportionately.

Sen. Alexander is expected to introduce his bill as a substitute amendment during the June 11 markup, and the amendment will likely fail on a party-line vote. Check back next weeks for more updates on ESEA reauthorization, and for up-to-minute news, follow @akarhuse and @balljacki on Twitter!

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