Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

National Principals Month

As we wrap up National Principals Month, NASSP wants to thank all those who participated in making it such a success. Although the official National Principals Month is over, rest assured that you will still have access to all of the great materials that were created or occurred during it. The website will continue to be active so you can still access the 29 state resolutions that were passed, the recording of the Capitol Hill event, a variety of webinars and many more important resources. While the celebrations are over, it is still extremely important for school leaders to have their voices heard, so please continue to utilize these resources to make your representatives listen!

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Toolkit

With the election less than two weeks away, candidates looking to win elections across the country are listening to those they hope to represent. This provides a unique opportunity for all principals to go out and explain the importance of proper ESSA implementation to these candidates. To help with this, NASSP recently launched the ESSA Toolkit for Principals. This toolkit will provide principals with crucial information and tips to help in pushing legislators to effectively implement ESSA. It will also provide many other beneficial instructions, including:

  • Fact Sheets which detail the important provisions of the law and how they will impact schools.
  • Tutorials on how to identify important stories that can help principals illustrate their message.
  • Communication templates with sample letters, op-eds, and social media posts.
  • Model legislation that can show state legislators how to properly design principal recruitment, preparation, and training strategies.

Title IV Action Alert

One of the main purposes of ESSA is to provide new flexible funding sources for states and districts. On October 21, the Department of Education (ED) released a guidance detailing one of these new flexible funding sources that are in Title IV of ESSA. Title IV contains the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, which are to be used to help provide students access to a well-rounded education; improved school conditions for learning; and training or developments that improve the use of technology in schools.

Title IV was authorized at $1.65 billion in ESSA. However, this block grant now faces significant funding barriers when elected officials return from campaigning in November. The Senate’s proposal only allocates $300 million for the block grant while the House’s allocation would provide $1 billion, both falling far short of the authorized level. That is why NASSP sent out an Action Alert asking that all members contract their representatives to ensure that Title IV is funded at no less than the $1.65 billion it was originally promised. Let your representatives know how beneficial these funds can be for your school today!

Inside the Beltway

What’s happening in Washington?

This past week ED’s official Principal Shadowing Week. This year, over 70 ED staffers shadowed principals at their schools across the nation. An event was then held at ED on October 27, with Secretary King that brought a number of these principals together so they could share their concerns and needs directly with the Secretary and his staff.

Why Should Principals Care?

Principal Shadowing Week and the wrap-up event on October 27, provide principals with direct access to those making the policies that affect their schools. The wrap-up event had all the principals split into different groups to discuss three of the most important topics school leaders are now facing:

  • What are some ways principals have worked on closing the student access and opportunity gap?
  • How have principals recruited and retained a diverse workforce of effective teachers?
  • What methods of professional development are available to principals, and which are the most effective?

The event allowed principals to answer these questions alongside their peers so they could learn new methods to help reach their goals. Each group was also able to share their findings directly with Secretary King and ED employees to give them a better idea of how principals are finding creative solutions with limited funds. Secretary King ended the event by noting how important it is for principals to be involved in the ESSA implementation process at their state level. He noted that if principals really want to see changes made that can help solve these problems, then they have to have a seat at the table when ESSA decisions are made.

In the Press

ESSA News and Updates from around the U.S., Education Reform Now

Education Reform Now provides a snapshot of ESSA news coming out of a number of states. It also highlights some of the key controversies and provisions that some states are facing when deciding the best way to implement the new law.

Examining Poverty and Race in Charter Schools, Brookings

A new report from Brookings has found that minority students’ educational outcomes have more to do with school quality and poverty rather than racial segregation. According to the report, the concentration of poverty has a larger impact on student achievement than a school’s racial makeup. However, there is still a strong correlation between race and economic status since black students are almost four times more likely than white students to attend a high-poverty school.

The Importance of Social and Emotional Learning, American Institutes for Research

More and more schools and educators are finding out how important social and emotional learning (SEL) is for students. SEL curriculums purposefully teach students a number of skills that were not as prevalent in past school curriculums. These skills include understanding one’s skills and abilities, managing their emotions and behavior, communicating effectively, negotiating conflict, caring about others and many others. AIR’s new report dives into SEL further and finds the positive effects it has on students, and it notes the importance states, schools and faculty play in incorporating SEL into new curriculums.

$427 Million to be Awarded to Turn Around Lowest-Performing Schools, Department of Education

Last Tuesday, ED announced that more than $427 million would be awarded in School Improvement Grants to help improve America’s lowest-achieving schools. ED will roll out these funds as grants to states or territories, which then award them as subgrants to school districts that demonstrate the greatest need for funds and the strongest commitment to raising student achievement.

States Receive Information from Outside Sources with ESSA, The Hechinger Report

Many have applauded ESSA for the fact that it has helped education policy be influenced at a more local level. However, this does leave states with the daunting task of creating new accountability standards on how to assess schools. That is why many SEAs and LEAs have begun hearing from outside educational organizations that are capable of providing them with the information they need when finalizing these assessments.

Developing Stronger Principal Pipelines, The Wallace Foundation

To continue their “Building a Stronger Principalship” initiative, the Wallace foundation recently released a new study that examines how to make effective principal pipelines. The study examined six large urban school districts and their progress in building better principal pipelines. The study particularly notes the direct benefit that novice school principals received when the quality of hiring, training, evaluations, mentoring and other support were all raised during their first years.

Helping States Adjust to the new Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, American Institutes for Research

The duties of school leaders are constantly changing, and they’re now being asked to do more than ever. Because of this, last year the National Policy Board for Educational Administration released their new iteration of standards that define effective educational leadership. These new standards were referred to as Professional Standards for Educational Leaders. To help states and educational leaders understand these standards, AIR released a new crosswalk and toolkit that explain the changes in the standards and lay out the correct ways states can implement these standards for their school leaders.

Personalized Learning Under ESSA, International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL)

A new report from iNACOL points out the unique opportunity that ESSA provides states to move K-12 education towards personalized, student-centered learning. Personalized learning promotes the idea that all students gain a more specific learning experience based on their abilities and preferences. The report notes that because of this, personalized learning is empowering teachers and leadership to dramatically improve the outcomes and meet the needs of all students.

Effectiveness of Race to the Top Grants Uncertain, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

Race to the Top Grants (RTT) proved to be one of the Obama Administration’s largest educational undertakings. However, a recent study found that there was no direct correlation between RTT funds and student outcomes. The study is of particular interest to principals as one of the areas it focuses on is recruiting, developing, rewarding and retaining effective teachers and principals. The study finds many interesting facts regarding this measure, including that across all states the use of policies and practices promoted by RTT was lowest for teacher and principal certification evaluation. You can also find a summary of the report here.

Is Chronic Absenteeism the Best Fifth Indicator for ESSA?, The Hamilton Project

One of ESSA’s most difficult, but also most exciting, challenges is for states to determine what should be a fifth factor that measures school climate or student access in their schools. Many states have been examining a number of different options for what should be their fifth indicator. A new report argues that chronic absenteeism would be one of the best candidates for states to use as this fifth indicator. The report found that that chronic absenteeism provides valuable, measurable data on school quality and student success. There is also an interactive map provided that breaks down chronic absenteeism in each state.

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