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