Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

Advocacy Continues FY17 Appropriations

On Thursday, NASSP, along with more than 150 national, state, and local organizations, sent a letter asking Congress to fund the School Leader Recruitment and Support program at the level requested by President Obama. Thank you to all 302 principals who sent a combined 993 personal messages to their representatives and senators through the Principal’s Legislative Action Center. It is not too late to chime in as well! The House has a deadline of Thursday, March 24, for letters and requests.

NASSP has also been involved in advocating for robust funding for Title IV, Part A, of ESSA and has been meeting with congressional offices this week. The new education law created a formula-funded flexible block grant for local education agencies in Title IV, Part A, which consolidated more than 20 programs from No Child Left Behind. The funding can be used for activities that promote safe and healthy schools, a well-rounded education, or effective use of technology. NASSP and several state and national organizations signed a letter calling for Congress to adequately fund this critical grant program.

Inside the Beltway

What’s going on in Washington?

President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the current chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to the Supreme Court. Senate Republicans have already vowed to block the president’s nomination, creating a tense environment in Washington. Meanwhile, education advocates have been watching for what will happen with the Perkins Act, which funds career and technical education (CTE). Against all odds in the highly divided Senate, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the CTE Excellence and Equity Act, providing federal funding for school district and institutional partnerships that integrate high-quality CTE programs in high schools.

Why should principals care?

NASSP has endorsed the bill, and you can read more about it in this School of Thought blog post. Education advocates had hoped to see more movement regarding the Higher Education Act (HEA), but other concerns have blocked action in Congress. NASSP has previously written about proposed legislation to amend HEA that would support principal preparation programs and provide loan forgiveness for their degrees.

In the Press

Wallace Foundation to Invest $47 Million in Redesigning Principal Preparation, The Washington Post

The Wallace Foundation announced that, in addition to the millions of dollars they have already invested in research on principal effectiveness, they will invest another $47 million over the next five years. The money will go to as many as six university programs, which will use the funds to redesign their training programs and partner with several school districts. In recent surveys, superintendents have expressed dissatisfaction with principal preparation programs, and universities themselves have identified their programs as in need of improvement. The universities are expected be selected by fall 2016.

States Can Drive Change to Make Principals Prepared on Day One, AIR

On their blog, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) highlights their research on new principals. Among the data points collected are new principal attrition rates. The national average hovers around 25 percent per year and can reach 35 percent per year in some urban districts. AIR’s research also analyzed state policies to identify those that hold the promise of increasing innovation and improving principal preparation. Some of this research can be found in The Wallace Foundation report previously highlighted in Advocacy Update.

North Dakota Residents Most Positive About Schools, Gallup

North Dakota residents are the most likely to rate the K–12 education in their state as excellent or good, followed closely by those living in Minnesota or Nebraska. Residents of Nevada and New Mexico are the least likely to rate their public education positively: less than half in each state gave a good or excellent rating. In contrast, 90 percent of North Dakota residents said their public schools prepare students for the workplace. There is a moderate relationship between unemployment rates and residents’ perceptions of their schools. North Dakota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

The Power of Teacher Selection to Improve Education, Brookings Institution

Researchers at Brookings compared data from teacher application scores to subsequent performance within the district’s teacher evaluation system. The data came from the District of Columbia’s public schools, which adopted a comprehensive teacher selection system in 2009 involving written assessments, interviews, and sample lessons. Brookings found a strong correlation between a high score on an application and a high score on teacher evaluations. Principals were found to value scores on the written assessment and the teaching audition more than an undergraduate GPA. Principal knowledge and ability to use the application system were also key to the best teachers being hired. D.C.’s teacher selection success rate has increased.

The Growing Importance of Afterschool in Rural Communities, Afterschool Alliance

In this special report on afterschool data covering rural communities, researchers found that the number of rural children taking part in afterschool and summer learning programs continues to grow, from 11 percent in 2009 to 13 percent in 2011. Programs also remain in demand but inaccessible to many in rural communities; 39 percent of rural children not currently enrolled in a program would be if one was available and affordable. Rural parents value afterschool as a critical resource for working families and as a support system for their children’s academic and social development.

Check out this heartwarming video from The Atlantic on Why Principals Matter.

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