School of Thought

Lining It Up: Using Principal Areas of Influence to Improve Student Performance

Guest post by Kevin Grawer

A school leader must know the answer to the following question: “What do I as the principal actually have control over?” Throughout my time as principal, I have had complete or partial “authority” over the following:


How Can ESSA Support School Leaders?

School leadership is one of the most important influences on student performance, second only to quality instruction. However, year after year, we see Congress fail to allocate the funds necessary to ensure students, teachers, and school leaders can succeed. Even recently, we saw Congress pass a short-term continuing resolution that produced across-the-board cuts to a number of key education programs for the current school year. To make matters worse, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations subcommittees of the House and Senate have both proposed significant cuts to Title II, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for FY 17, which can be used for professional development, residency and mentoring programs, principal evaluation system reform, and several other important uses that would support school leaders. With full implementation of ESSA to begin with the 2017–18 school year, it has become more important than ever for principals to advocate at the federal, state, and district levels for increased funding toward key education programs.


My Experience with Powerful Professional Development

Guest post by Daniel Kelley

Principals across the country may face their own set of unique challenges, but one fact applies to all of them: They need greater support and training.

I say this for many reasons, but the top one is this: School leadership is one of the most important influences on student achievement, second only to quality instruction. This is huge. And if principals don’t receive quality professional development (PD) on a regular basis, it is the students who will suffer. (more…)

Great Teachers Need Great Leaders: Why Congress Should Fully Fund ESSA Title II to Improve School Leadership

Guest post by Edward Fuller and Michelle D. Young

The research is abundantly clear—great teachers have a very positive impact on students. Less known is that school leaders are the second most important school factor influencing a variety of student outcomes. School leaders influence student outcomes both directly, through interactions with students, and indirectly, by ensuring students have access to great teachers. (more…)

Fostering an Environment for Teacher Growth

Guest post by Michele Paine

An area of passion for me as a school leader involves facilitating teacher growth. One way I work on this is by hosting several professional book studies during the school year.

Our district pays teachers for two days of flexible professional development time each contract year. Teachers can choose from a variety of options, including conferences, regional training, and state-led events. With all of these choices, however, I feel it is important to foster collegial discussion and professional reading. (more…)

Thomas J. Dodd Named 2017 NASSP National Principal of the Year

What better way to celebrate National Principals Month than NASSP naming Thomas J. Dodd the 2017 National Principal of the Year! In a surprise ceremony at his school, Dodd was presented with this honor after 11 years of working as the principal at Lesher Middle School.


Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

National Principals Month

We are already into the third week of National Principals Month and time is flying by. Twenty states have already helped honor principals by passing their own resolutions formally recognizing National Principals Month. NASSP wants to thank the governors, legislators, and NASSP members in those states who helped make these resolutions possible. (more…)

Shifting Toward Proficiency-Based Grading—Two Key Strategies

Guest post by Alan Tenreiro

Like many schools, Cumberland High School in Rhode Island has been wrestling for years with the standards-era question: How do we shift our grading system to reflect genuine mastery and not just compliance? This question, reflected most recently in NASSP’s position statement on competency-based education, prompted us to design a proficiency-based grading system based on student performance levels, which is then translated into a numerical grade. The performance-level rubric promotes consistent scoring across all teachers in all disciplines, relying on moderate, strong, and distinguished command of the standard. And, perhaps most important, students also receive feedback on how they can improve their performance.


Strengthening Our Capacity to Lead

Guest post by Michele Paine

On the Fourth of July, I had the opportunity to reconnect with a colleague who had just finished her first year as a K–6 principal in a small rural partner school in the Greater Flathead Valley area, where I serve as assistant principal in one of its high schools. Over margaritas, we laughed about our school year, each of us sharing “lessons learned” during the year. While she serves an elementary school and I serve a high school, we found that our lessons could apply universally. (more…)

Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

National Principals Month

National Principals Month continues moving along with NASSP co-hosting an event on Capitol Hill this week entitled “Revolutionizing School Leadership Under ESSA.” As states and districts begin implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), it is important to understand how the law can provide unprecedented support for principals and other educators. This event will bring in current and former principals and educators to discuss both the policy and practitioner perspective on how to best support school leadership to improve school outcomes. (more…)