Less than two weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives moved to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by passing the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), the Senate followed suit by passing the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) by a vote of 81 to 17.

This historic achievement comes seven years after No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was due for reauthorization. The bill was opposed by 14 Republicans who felt the bill did not go far enough to restore local control in education and three Democrats because of concerns over missing civil rights provisions.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued the following statement after the bill passed the Senate:

“Last week, Newsweek Magazine called this the ‘law that everyone wants to fix’—and today the Senate’s shown that not only is there broad consensus on the need to fix this law—remarkably, there’s also broad consensus on how to fix it.”

HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) was also pleased with the passage of the Every Child Achieves Act:

 “Today, the Senate cleared a major hurdle with this strong bipartisan vote to fix the badly broken No Child Left Behind law, but we still have important work to do as this bill moves to a conference and before it is signed into law.”

Throughout this process, the Senate considered 78 amendments, 66 of which were adopted. You can access the Committee for Education Funding’s complete list of the results for each amendment here.

Some of the more notable amendments that passed were:

  • An amendment by Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to establish a Student Privacy Policy Committee to conduct a study on the effectiveness of federal laws and enforcement mechanisms along with parental rights to student information (passed 89-0)
  • An amendment by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) to modify the Title I funding formula (passed 59-39)
  • An amendment by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) to require local education agencies to inform parents of any state or local education agency policy, procedure, or parental right regarding student participation in any mandated assessments for that school year (passed 97-0)
  • An amendment by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to provide for early college high school and dual or concurrent enrollment opportunities (passed by voice vote)
  • An amendment by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) to require States to establish a limit on the aggregate amount of time spent on assessments (passed by voice vote)

Some of the noteworthy amendments that failed were:

  • An amendment by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) to allow parents to opt their children out of federally mandated assessments (failed 32-64)
  • An amendment by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to end discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools (failed 52-45)
  • An amendment by Sen. Chris Murphy to increase subgroup accountability for underperforming groups (failed 43-54)
  • An amendment by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) to reinstate grants to improve the mental health of children (failed 58-39)
  • An amendment by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) to ensure that states measure and report on indicators of student access to critical educational resources and identify disparities in such resources (failed 46-50)
  • An amendment by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to allow federal funds for the education of disadvantaged children to follow low-income children to accredited public or private schools (failed 45-52)
  • An amendment by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) to allow states to opt out of federal education regulations while continuing to received federal funds
  • An amendment by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) to provide mandatory funding for universal pre-K education (failed 45-52)

While NASSP supported the bill, there are several aspects that must be improved during conference committee. NASSP along with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA) issued a joint statement on the passage of the Every Child Achieves Act.

Now that the House and Senate have both passed bills to reauthorize ESEA, a bipartisan group of representatives and senators will go to conference committee to try and resolve the major differences between the two bills. It is still unclear when the conference committee will occur and it could take several weeks—if not months—before a bill is produced that can pass both chambers while also receiving support from President Obama.

The NASSP advocacy staff will continue to follow the reauthorization of ESEA, so be sure to follow Amanda Karhuse (@akarhuse) and David Chodak (@dnchodak) on Twitter for updates.

The Republicans on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue to move forward with their goal of passing all 12 appropriations bills before the September 30 deadline, but not without a fight from the White House and Committee Democrats who have serious concerns with the proposed funding levels in the FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (L-HHS-ED) Appropriations bills. They believe that in order to provide robust funding for education, the sequester caps must be increased by striking a deal similar to the Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreement in 2013.

For the first time in six years, the House Appropriations Committee marked up the L-HHS-ED Appropriations bill, which was approved on a party-line vote of 30-21 on June 24. The bill would cut funding for the Department of Education by $2.8 billion while also eliminating 27 education programs, including the School Leadership Program, the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program, School Improvement State Grants, Investing in Innovation (i3), and Preschool Development Grants among others.

The bill does provide small increases for Title I, IDEA, Head Start, Impact Aid, and Charter School Grants to name a few. The Committee for Education Funding (CEF) created a full summary of the House L-HHS-ED bill, which can be accessed here.

The committee approved their bill a day after Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) voicing strong opposition to the L-HHS-ED bill because of its underinvestment in health care, job training, public health, and education. Without bipartisan support and increased funding, it is quite possible that President Obama will veto the bill.

On June 25, the Senate Appropriations Committee considered the L-HHS-ED bill, which was reported out with a 16-14 party-line vote. The bill would cut the Department of Education’s budget by $1.7 billion in FY 2016 and would eliminate 10 education programs including Investing in Innovation (i3), Preschool Development Grants, and the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program among others. The bill does provide a $2 billion increase for the National Institute of Health (NIH) along with increases to IDEA State Grants, Charter School Grants, and Pell Grants. You can access CEF’s summary of the Senate L-HHS-ED bill here.

In response to the elimination of the School Leadership program, NASSP along with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), and New Leaders sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.

We requested, at a minimum, level funding of $16.4 million in FY 2016 for the School Leadership Program while also urging the removal of the sequester caps in order to increase nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending. In addition, the Committee for Education Funding (CEF)—a coalition of 118 organizations including NASSP—sent a letter to the Appropriations Committees urging a removal of the sequester caps.

It is now up to House and Senate leadership if and when to bring up these spending bills for debate on their respective floors. Republicans have stated that they want all 12 Appropriations bills passed before the August recess, which means these bills must be brought up sometime in July. As the federal budget and appropriations process moves forward, NASSP will continue to advocate for an overall increase to education funding as well a restoration of key programs like the School Leadership Program, the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program, and the High School Graduation Initiative.

After weeks of negotiations between Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), the committee released a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and set a date for the markup on April 14. The purpose of the Every Child Achieves Act is to “enable states and local communities to improve and support our nation’s public schools and ensure that every child has an opportunity to achieve.”

The following is a summary of Titles I and II of the bill:

Unlike No Child Left Behind, the latest iteration of ESEA, the bill does not provide a specific amount for Title I or any other programs in the bill but instead authorizes “to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2016 through 2021.”

NASSP is pleased to see that the bill eliminates the School Improvement Grants program and the turnaround models that all require the principal to be replaced as a condition for receiving federal funding. Instead the bill would authorize funding for schools to implement school intervention and support strategies, but it provides districts with flexibility in choosing those strategies.

In order to receive Title I funding, states must submit a plan that is developed in consultation with educators, including organizations representing teachers or principals, that provides an assurance that the state has adopted challenging academic content standards and aligned academic achievement standards in math, reading, science, and any other subjects as determined by the state. States must demonstrate that their standards are aligned with entrance requirements, without the need for academic remediation, for public higher education, relevant state career and technical education standards, and relevant early learning guidelines.

Consistent with current law, states would be required to annually assess all students in math and reading in grades 3-8 and at least once in high school. States would also be required to annually assess students in science not less than one time in grades 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12.

The bill would prohibit the Secretary of Education for requiring states to use specific standards or assessments or specify annual achievement goals, requirements for teacher or principal evaluation systems, or indicators of teacher or principal effectiveness.

States would be allowed to adopt alternate academic achievement standards for only students with the most cognitive disabilities (currently the 1% requirement under Title I regulations). They would also be required to adopt English language proficiency standards that are aligned with the state academic standards.

States would be required to develop a single, statewide accountability system that annually establishes state-designed goals for all students, which includes academic achievement or student growth and high school graduation rates. At the state’s discretion, it could include extended-year graduation rates in addition to the four-year cohort graduation rate. The plan would require states to identify schools in need of intervention and support, and then district would conduct a review of the schools and develop and implement appropriate intervention and support strategies.

Title II is structured similar to current law with a number of allowable uses at the state and local level to prepare, train, and recruit high-quality teachers, principals, and other school leaders. The bill would allow states to reserve not more than 3 percent for activities focused on the recruitment, preparation, placement, support, and retention of effective principals and other school leaders. States could also use the funds to support the design and implementation of teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that are based in part on evidence of student academic achievement or growth and must include multiple measures of educator performance.

School districts receiving Title II funds would be required to conduct a needs assessment to determine the schools with the most acute staffing needs. Funds could then be used to develop evaluation and support systems for teachers and principals; recruit, hire, and retain highly effective teachers and principals; train school leaders on how to accurately differentiate performance, provide useful feedback, and use evaluation results to inform decision making about professional development, improvement strategies, and personnel decisions; recruiting individuals from other fields to become teachers and principals; providing high-quality professional development for teachers and principals; support teacher and principal residency programs; and improving teacher and principal preparation programs. Unfortunately, the bill would still expand the allowable uses under Title II to include reducing class size, supporting school librarians, and providing liability insurance coverage for teachers.

The bill would continue to authorize competitive grants for programs of national significance, but 40 of the funds shall be reserved by the Department of Education for a competitive grant to improve the recruitment, preparation, placement, support, and retention of effective principals and high-need schools. The language is based on the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act, which NASSP strongly supports.

The bill also includes a new provision under Title II that mirrors the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation Act, which is another bill that NASSP helped developed. Districts receiving a grant under this section would be required to develop and implement comprehensive literacy instruction plan with specific requirements for early childhood, grades K-5, and grades 6-12.

Check back on the Principal’s Policy Blog for additional details, and follow @akarhuse on Twitter for live tweets during the committee markup on April 14.

As Congress moves to quickly reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), NASSP Board Member Christine Handy testified January 27 at a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on supporting teachers and leaders.

“My experience, the experience of my colleagues, and 10 years of rigorous research by the Wallace Foundation bear out one large reality: School. Leadership. Matters,” said Handy who is the principal of Gaithersburg High School, a large and diverse school in the Washington, D.C., suburbs of Maryland. “The nation must invest in the recruitment, preparation, and ongoing support of principals if we want each student in every school to succeed. The reauthorization of ESEA gives Congress the perfect opportunity to provide that support to school leaders.”

Handy urged Congress to provide dedicated funding for professional development for principals. While Title II of ESEA is the primary source of federal funds to improve principal quality, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has found that only 4 percent is actually spent for principal professional development. The reality is that principal professional learning and growth competes with teacher development, class-size reduction, and other priorities once federal funds arrive to the school district.

“I have benefited enormously in my professional life from guidance and development from my district and from our state and national principal organizations,” continued Handy. “But as state budgets tighten, that professional development becomes less and less accessible.” She noted that Congress recently instructed ED to provide guidance to states to support professional development opportunities for principals. In addition, NASSP, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the American Federation of Teachers have proposed a 10 percent set-aside within Title II for principal professional development.

To read Handy’s full written remarks, visit the NASSP website.

Other witnesses spoke about teacher quality and preparation programs, including the importance of teacher residencies and mentoring. Questions from the senators on the committee covered every aspect of ESEA such as testing, recruitment of effective teachers and leaders, and the appropriate federal role in education.

The Senate HELP Committee is expected to consider a draft bill on ESEA reauthorization in mid-February with the House Education and the Workforce Committee following close behind. Be sure to read the latest information on the Principal’s Policy Blog and follow @akarhuse and @balljacki on Twitter.

Fulfilling his promise to make reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) a top priority in the 114th Congress, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) released a discussion draft to improve the law as his first action as the new chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Similar to the bill he introduced in 2013, the purpose of the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act is “to restore freedom to parents, teachers, principals and other school leaders, States, Governors, and local communities so that that they can improve their local public schools.” To do so, the legislation would prohibit the U.S. Secretary of Education from prescribing the standards or measures that states use to establish state standards, assessments, accountability systems, systems that measure student academic growth, measures of other academic indicators, teacher and principal evaluation systems, or indicators of teacher and principal effectiveness.

In order to receive Title I funding, which is authorized at $14.9 billion, states must provide an assurance that they have adopted challenging academic content standards and academic achievement standards in math, reading/language arts, science, and any other subjects as determined by the states. States may also adopt alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities provided that the standards align with state subject standards and promote access to the general curriculum.

Because proliferation of testing has become such a hot issue, the discussion draft offers two options for discussion by the HELP Committee. One option is to continue the requirement for annual assessments in math and reading. The other option is to require assessments in math, reading, and science, but states would be given flexibility over their assessment timelines. They could keep the current schedule for assessments (every year in grades 3-8 and once in grades 9-12) or they could implement grade-span testing, which would require only one assessment in grades 3-5, grades 6-9, and grades 10-12. Districts may also seek approval to administer their own assessments with approval from the state.

State plans must include 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.” They system should annually measure academic achievement of all public school students, annually identify and differentiate all public schools in the state, taking into consideration achievement gaps between student subgroups, overall performance of student subgroups, 4-year cohort graduation rates, and extended-year adjusted cohort graduation rates.

Districts with schools identified for assistance are required to conduct a review of the school’s data and the policies, procedures, personnel decisions, and budget decisions that impact the school before developing “evidence-based assistance strategies and activities” for the school. Districts must continue to provide students an option to transfer to another public school and musty pay for the transportation costs.

The draft bill would include a new portability provisions that would give districts the flexibility to ensure that Title I funds follow low-income children to whatever public school they attend. In a letter to the Senate HELP Committee leaders, NASSP, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the American Federation of School Administrators expressed our opposition to any proposal to transform Title I into a private school voucher program. This portability provision is designed to make it easier implement private school vouchers as a next step.

Just over $3 billion would be authorized for Title II, and the allowable state activities look very similar to current law with regard to principals and other school leaders: reforming principal certification and licensure systems to ensure that principals have the instructional leadership skills to help teachers teach and to help students meet challenge academic content standards, developing and improving evaluation systems that “are based in part on evidence of student academic achievement” and may include student academic growth and other measures determined by the state, establishing alternative routes for principal certification, recruiting and retaining principals who are effective in improving student achievement, developing new principal induction and mentoring programs, implementing high-quality professional development programs for principals, developing school leadership academies, supporting efforts to train principals to effectively integrate technology into curricula and instruction, and improving principal preparation programs.

The allowable local activities include professional development for principals, which is a priority for NASSP, but it’s in the same bucket as school libraries; AP, dual enrollment, and early college high school programs; extended learning time; and liability insurance for teachers. It seems very unlikely that any of the funding would actually be used for principal professional development since only 4% is used for that purpose under current law.

$1.6 billion is authorized for Safe and Healthy Students under Title IV. Districts may use the funding for drug and violence prevention activities, before and after school programs, school-based mental health services, mentoring programs for at risk students, school counseling programs, and positive behavioral interventions and supports among other activities.

The draft bill 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 that serve the neediest students could be hurt disproportionately.

Providing flexibility in the use of federal funds, the draft bill would allow states to transfer 100% of their funds between Title II and Title IV.

Comments on the discussion draft should be e-mailed to the Senate HELP Committee at FixingNCLB@help.senate.gov by February 2. NASSP will submit comments and meet with staff for Sen. Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) to ensure that the bill supports principals and the teachers and students they serve. For updates on ESEA hearings and the pending markup in February, follow @akarhuse and @balljacki on Twitter.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan affirmed his support for a delay in using new test scores in teacher and principal evaluations, a key recommendation proposed by NASSP in May. States and districts were also asked to evaluate the number of tests being given to students and how educators could access assessment data to improve teaching and learning.

“We encouraged states to move a whole lot of changes simultaneously,” wrote Duncan in a blog post on ed.gov. “But in how this change happens, we need to listen carefully to the teachers, principals and other educators who are living it on a daily basis.”

States that request the new flexibility would push back until 2015-2016 the time when student growth measures based on new state assessments become part of the educator evaluation systems.

The policy brief on college and career ready standards (CCRS) adopted by the NASSP Board of Directors in May called for federal policymakers to delay for two years the use of new assessment results for high-stakes accountability purposes. A two-year transition period will allow for sufficient experience will a fully validated and implemented assessment system consisting of pre-assessments, performance-based assessments, and summative assessments all accompanied by meaningful and timely feedback to teachers and schools.

The success of the new college and career ready standards depends on purposeful and well-supported efforts. Those efforts set reasonable expectations for educators and build their capacity to implement the standards. Policymakers at all levels have a role in promoting those efforts.

“Strong school leadership is pivotal to creating a culture of high expectations for each student,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, Executive Director of NASSP, which continues to support high common standards across states. “But principals across the nation report concerns about the implementation of the new standards in their states and the inadequate training they have received to help them ensure that their teachers are able to change instructional practices.”

Titled Policy Recommendations for College and Career Ready Standards in Secondary Schools, the brief includes specific recommendations for policymakers at federal, state, and district levels. They include the abandonment of punitive provisions under the No Child Left Behind Act, delaying consequences for test results for a reasonable transition period, building a solid infrastructure for online testing, and adopting 5- to 10-year plans for complete implementation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Using the power of the bully pulpit, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today criticized Congress for its inability to pass a bill reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the looming government shutdown, and further cuts to education programs under sequestration. The secretary’s speech took place at the National Press Club before an audience of education reporters, education advocates, and US Department of Education officials.

The speech was an opportunity for Duncan to address the Obama administration’s current education initiatives, and he praised state reforms underway due to the implementation of college and career-ready standards and new teacher and principal evaluation systems. Both were requirements under Race to the Top and the ESEA flexibility waivers. He also highlighted other initiatives “outside of the Washington bubble,” such as investments in early childhood education and wrap-around services, and shared specific examples where teachers unions were partners in reform in West Virginia, Indiana, Maryland, Florida, and Colorado.

Duncan criticized certain naysayers of public education, saying our public schools can offer hope and a meaningful life for low-income children. He pointed to recent successes in education such as high school graduation rates, which are at their highest level in 30 years, and the number of students receiving college credit while in high school. But, he also urged public school educators to not make excuses for low achievement, stating that he had met teachers and principals who are proving that “poverty is not destiny” for many low-income students.

Calling education funding “a critical investment for our nation winning the race for the future,” Duncan urged Congress to avert the government shutdown and finalize the FY 2014 appropriations process. He also said that the Department of Education stood ready to work in a bipartisan fashion with Congress to reauthorize “long overdue” bills such as ESEA, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, and the Higher Education Act.

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.