Inside the Beltway
What is going on in Washington?
Last week was a historic week for K–12 education in Washington with President Obama signing into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that will replace the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). After approval by the House, ESSA was approved by the Senate in an 85-12 vote on Wednesday morning and signed by the president in a White House ceremony on Thursday morning. Our own Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti was in attendance in addition to other education stakeholders and students from schools in the Washington, D.C., area.
Why should principals care?
Because of the major shift of control from the federal government to the states, it is hard to predict the changes that will occur in individual school districts and schools. NASSP will be following closely and we encourage members to join the Federal Grassroots Network to learn ways to get involved with the policy battles to come at the state level. The new law takes effect in August 2016 with all state waivers from NCLB becoming null and void on August 1.
In the Press
The Supreme Court heard arguments this week in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case in which Abigail Fisher, who is white, contends that she was denied admission to the University of Texas-Austin in the university’s “holistic review” process because of the school’s policy of giving more weight to underrepresented minorities. The decision could have wide-sweeping implications not only for universities’ affirmative action admissions policies, but also school policies designed to prevent racial isolation and foster diverse learning environments for K–12 students. NASSP signed on to an amicus brief with the National School Boards Association and other organizations in support of the University of Texas’ compelling interest—and by extension, the school district’s compelling interest—to create and maintain diversity.
A Systematic Review of the Relationships Between Principal Characteristics and Student Achievement, Institute of Education Sciences
The Institute of Education Sciences reviewed the library of recent studies looking for links between principal characteristics and student achievement in schools. Their review found that most studies did not find any significant link between any one principal characteristic and student achievement in schools. Only one study found significant results: It looked at the effect of principals meeting one-on-one with low-performing students before state testing and found a positive impact on the students’ test scores.
2015 State Teacher Policy Yearbook, National Center on Teaching Quality (NCTQ)
While no state earned an A grade in this year’s teacher policy yearbook from NCTQ, Florida earned the top marks with a B+ for their strong teacher preparation and evaluation policies. In the executive summary, NCTQ describes this year as a “tipping point” where most states seem to have headed down a path focused on teacher effectiveness. They describe teacher policies as a sum of many small efforts such as requiring longer student teaching experiences or allowing districts to award higher pay based on performance and not tenure.
Mission Impossible? Improving Leadership in Rural Low-Performing Schools, Education Northwest
Earlier in the federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, schools receiving the competitive grant were only allowed to implement certain federally designed improvement models. All the models either required replacing the principal or sending students to a different school. Without viable alternatives for students, most rural schools chose to replace their principal. Now that the SIG program has opened up to allow other models, the question becomes: How should rural schools look to improve leadership at their schools? Education Northwest offers a model designed for small rural schools where adults in the building wear many hats.