After reading NASSP’s position statement on raising the compulsory school attendance age, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) approached NASSP for assistance in drafting legislation to provide resources and support for schools in states that elect to raise the dropout age to 18. The Broadening Opportunities Through Education Act will be introduced this afternoon, and many of the bill’s provisions mirror NASSP’s recommendations for middle level and high school reform.

“It is unacceptable and saddening that more than 9,000 students drop out of Maryland Public Schools each year,” said Rep. Edwards. “That is why my legislation…provides additional resources to states that increase compulsory school attendance through age 17 to help improve secondary schools and ensure that students at-risk of dropping out receive the support they need to reach their fullest potential. A quality education is critical to ensuring success in a 21st century global economy, and we must do all we can to provide one for our nation’s young people.”

Under the bill, states that have enacted laws to raise the compulsory attendance age could apply for a competitive grant to improve programs in their middle level and high schools. Funding would be used to establish or expand CTE programs, implement an early warning indicator system to help high schools and their feeder middle schools assist struggling students, create grade and school transition programs, personalize the school experience,
provide extended learning opportunities, and increase counseling and other nonacademic supports for students.

One study cited in the board position statement notes that 25% of potential dropouts remain in school because of compulsory schooling laws, but NASSP understands that raising the age of compulsory school attendance alone is not enough to ensure these students graduate. We were very pleased to work with Congresswoman Edwards and her staff to ensure that secondary schools can access vital resources that will allow them to provide supports to struggling students and help them get on track to be college and career ready when they complete high school.”

The position statement offers recommendations for school leaders aligned with the Breaking Ranks Framework. Principals are encouraged to personalize the school environment by creating small units within their schools, developing a personal plan for progress for each student, and assigning a personal adult advocate for each student. They are also called on to increase academic rigor through CTE or curriculum-based service learning; coordinate the delivery of physical, mental health, and social services for students in conjunction with community-based organizations; and provide intensive interventions to students who are at risk of dropping out.

Although Congress is unlikely to act on any education bills before the November elections, the Broadening Opportunities Through Education Act will likely be considered in future discussions of Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization.

As part of his FY 2013 budget proposal, President Obama has requested $5 billion through the American Jobs Act for a new initiative to elevate teachers and school leaders. Known as Recognizing Education Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching or “RESPECT,” the one-time competitive grant program would support states and districts “that commit to pursuing bold reforms at every stage of the teaching profession.”

“Our goal is to work with teachers and principals in rebuilding their profession and to elevate the teacher voice in federal, state and local education policy,” said US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a press release announcing the proposal. “Our larger goal is to make teaching not only America’s most important profession, but also America’s most respected profession.”

While most of the rhetoric surrounding RESPECT has focused almost exclusively on teachers, the key elements of the initiative would also impact principals and other school leaders:

  • Attract a high-performing and diverse pool of people to become teachers and leaders in education and ensure that they are well prepared to be successful in the school environments in which they will work;
  • Retain, promote and maximize the talents of accomplished teachers and leaders, while creating well-supported roles for novices;
  • Create schools whose climates and cultures, use of time, approaches to staffing, use of technology, deployment of support services, and engagement of families and communities are optimized to continuously improve outcomes for the students they serve;
  • Evaluate and support the development and success of teachers and leaders;
  • Create an education system that provides the highest need students with the most effective teachers and principals, and provide access to other necessary resources to support every student’s academic success; and
  • Transition to a significantly more effective and efficient educational system that is sustainable after the grant program has ended.

In an interview with Jon Stewart last night on The Daily Show, Secretary Duncan said that the “ability to attract and retain talent now will impact education for the next 30 years,” and we at NASSP couldn’t agree more! We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to ensure that teachers and school leaders are well-prepared and supported to meet the demands of educating students to excellence in the 21st Century.

More than $32.8 million in grants have been awarded to 18 states and the District of Columbia as part of a joint effort by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice to support schools in creating safer and healthier learning environments.

The highly competitive Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative attracted 422 grant applications nationally. Under the initiative, school districts, in partnership with local public mental-health agencies, law-enforcement and juvenile justice entities, must implement a comprehensive, community-wide plan that focuses on the following elements:

  • Safe school environments and violence prevention activities
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention activities
  • Student behavioral, social and emotional supports
  • Mental-health services
  • Early childhood social and emotional learning programs.

“Every child in America deserves a safe and healthy school environment, and it’s our job as educators, parents and community members to ensure that happens,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “The Safe Schools/Healthy Students grants will provide students with access to services and programs that promote healthy development, personally and academically.”

“The prevention of youth violence and substance abuse is a principal objective of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative and is crucial to our efforts to reduce juvenile delinquency,” said Laurie Robinson, acting assistant attorney general, Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice. “The initiative is well equipped to advance the prevention of delinquency, and the grants announced today represent a significant step forward towards that end.”

“In community after community, this initiative has been the catalyst for bringing schools and youth-serving organizations together to build and expand evidence-based programs to prevent violence, promote mental health and boost young people’s academic achievement.”said Eric Broderick, acting administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which manages the program on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.“The dividends for children, families and communities at large have been unprecedented: lower rates of school violence, more mental-health services for more children, better attendance and improved academic performance.”

The Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative draws on the best practices of education, juvenile justice, law enforcement and mental-health systems to provide integrated resources for prevention and early intervention services for children and youth.

Since 1999, the Education, Justice and Health and Human Services departments have administered the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative, which has provided more than $2.1 billion to local educational, mental health, law enforcement and juvenile justice partnerships.

A complete list of grantees and their abstracts can be found at www.ed.gov/programs/dvpsafeschools/awards.html or see below. For more information on the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative, visit www.ed.gov/programs/dvpsafeschools/index.html or www.sshs.samhsa.gov.

2009 Safe Schools/Healthy Students grantees are listed below:

California
Corning Union High School District
Corning, CA
$727,471

El Rancho Unified School District
Pico Rivera, CA
$1,457,841

Escondido Union School District
Escondido, CA
$1,444,942

Nevada County Superintendent of Schools
Nevada City, CA
$1,406,136

Willits Unified School District
Willitis, CA
$731,992

Yolo County Office of Education
Woodland, CA
$714,319

District of Columbia
Washington Latin Public Charter School
Washington, DC
$721,102

Florida
Madison County School District
Madison, FL
$729,347

Georgia
Rockdale County Public Schools
Conyers, GA
$1,145,240

Indiana
Perry Central Community School Corporation
Leopold, IN
$729,132

Illinois
Alton Community Unit School District #11
Alton, IL
$879,211

Wabash Community Unit School District #348
Mt. Carmel, IL
$705,734

Iowa
Marshalltown Community School District
Marshalltown, IA
$1,390,660

Kentucky
Ashland Independent School District
Ashland, KY
$729,972

Louisiana
Recovery School District – LDE
New Orleans, LA
$1,434,068

Massachusetts
Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District
Wilbraham, MA
$731,899

Mississippi
Vicksburg Warren School District
Vicksburg, MS
$1,463,456

Montana
Helena School District One
Helena, MT
$1,364,186

New Jersey
Trenton Public Schools
Trenton, NJ
$1,454,223

New York
Broome-Delaware-Tioga Board of Cooperative Services (BOCES)
Binghamton, NY
$1,402,892

Oneida-Herkimer-Madison Board of Cooperative Services (BOCES)
New Hartford, NY
$1,462,996

Sodus Central School District
Sodus, NY
$731,992

Union Springs Central School District
Union Springs, NY
$1,435,968

North Carolina
Burke County Public Schools
Morganton, NC
$1,452,040

Ohio
Wood County Educational Services Center
Bowling Green, OH
$1,364,627

South Carolina
Kershaw County School District
Camden, SC
$1,431,287

Saluda County School District
Saluda, SC
$711,500

Texas
Mission Consolidated Independent School District
Mission, TX
$1,457,901

Virginia
Albemarle County Public Schools
Charlottesville, VA
$1,456,378

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A newly introduced bill, the Increased Student Achievement through Increased Student Support Act (H.R.6654 /S.3364), would provide five year grants to low-income urban or rural school districts to help address the nonacademic needs of students by increasing the recruitment and retention of K–12 school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers.

The need for these additional student support personnel is great. Principals and other school staff often do not have adequate training to deal with the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students, yet because many low-income schools are forced to share a single counselor, psychologist, or social worker, teachers are often left to deal with these student needs on their own.

In the current age of student achievement and accountability, attending to the nonacademic needs of students has never been more important. Studies have shown that students’ academic performance is affected by social and emotional factors, and that students who receive social, emotional, and behavior support have increased their academic achievement. (For information on these studies, visit www.nasponline.org; www.counseling.org; www.sswaa.org; and www.socialworkers.org.)

NASSP has consistently called on Congress to address the nonacademic needs of students, and recently joined with over 20 organizations representing educators and student support service personnel in support of the Increased Student Achievement through Increased Student Support Act.

Specifically, this legislation would authorize $30 million for five year partnership grants between institutions of higher education and urban or rural low-income school districts to train and place school counselors, psychologists, and social workers in underserved districts.

The bill would also create a student loan forgiveness program for school counselors, psychologists, and social workers who have worked for at least five years in low-income school districts. In addition, the bill would require the Secretary of Education to conduct a study on how to best distribute student support personnel to regions experiencing a shortage of school counselors, psychologists, or social workers.

Although it is unlikely that the Increased Student Achievement through Increased Student Support Act will be passed this year, the legislation will at the very least serve as a placeholder for next year, when Congress is expected to move forward on a reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.

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Should districts maintain alternative schools for pregnant and parenting teens?
Final results

42% Yes, they need a special environment
40% Only if services are not otherwise available
17% No

Total Votes: 99

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The future is up in the air for some special schools catering to pregnant teens, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Funding constraints, along with a trend toward “mainstreaming” pregnant girls into regular public schools, have put the alternative schools in jeopardy. One such school in Boise, ID, offers services that traditional public schools just aren’t equipped to provide—day care, government aid, parenting classes, an on-site baby supply store, and even relationship advice. The debate raises the perennial issues of equity, though even the staunchest supporters of such schools will bend if there’s evidence that the services such students require are available to the students as they’re mainstreamed.

So where do principals fall in the debate? This poll is now closed, but we invite you to leave your comments on the results below.

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NASSP Joins Consortium to Combat School Violence

On November 14, 2006, in School Safety, by Amanda Karhuse

NASSP has signed on to a position statement in response to the recent school violence this past fall. The statement, from the National Consortium of School Violence Prevention Researchers and Practitioners, states that a “thoughtful” approach to school violence is necessary, focusing on four key elements: balance, communication, connectedness, and support.

 

“A balanced approach implies well-integrated programs that make sense and are effective,” such as one that includes a variety of efforts that address not only physical safety but also programs that support students’ social, emotional, and behavioral needs.

 

“Communication is critical…and numerous researchers have concluded that the most effective way to prevent targeted acts of violence at school is by maintaining close communication and trust with students and others in the community,” according to the statement. It endorses policies that outline indicators of concern and plans for intervention and maintains that clear and open channels must be established for staff members, students, parents, and community members to communicate their concerns.

 

For students to feel connected, they “need to feel that they belong at their school and that the school staff and the school community as a whole care for them.” The position is that schools must build connections to “marginalized” students, show concern for them, and cultivate opportunities for meaningful involvement.

 

“Support is critical for effective prevention,” as students deal with depression, anxiety, bullying, and general stress. “Every school should have the resources to maintain evidence-based programs designed to address bullying and other forms of student conflict,” and schools should have a three-pronged approach: universal (schoolwide), targeted (for at-risk students), and intensive (for the most intensely at-risk students).

 

The statement has been signed by more than 20 other associations, including the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Education Association, and more than 100 educators, and has been disseminated by several states. It can be viewed in its entirety at www.ncsvprp.org.

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