Principals’ Groups Applaud Introduction of Bill to Support School Leadership, Urge Congress to Include Key Provisions in ESEA

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Bill seeks to improve current federal programs to better support aspiring and in-service principals through one-year residency, mentoring, and other professional development.

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This bill is needed to improve principals’ access to and the quality of sufficient recruitment, preparation, and ongoing professional development programs. It reinforces the nation’s principal pipeline.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) applaud the reintroduction of a bill to improve federal programs for the nation’s principals and assistant principals. S.840 and H.R.1736, The School Principal Recruitment and Training Act of 2013, was introduced by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), to amend Title II, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to recruit, prepare, and support principals through capacity-building measures that will improve student academic achievement in high-need schools.

The legislation emphasizes mentoring programs for principals, especially for aspiring and early-career principals. The bill consolidates the goals of H.R. 4113 from the 112th Congress introduced by Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), which was crafted to help close the gaps in principal preparation and provide early-career principals with mentoring programs to help meet the complex challenges of school leadership. The associations have come together to advocate for the bill’s reintroduction and adoption by Congress.

The School Principal Recruitment and Training Act would create a competitive grant program for one-year residencies to train aspiring principals on instructional leadership, organizational management, and the use of data to inform instruction. The programs are required to provide ongoing mentoring and support for at least two years after the aspiring principals complete the residency and commence work as school leaders. The bill also provides ongoing, job-embedded professional development to current principals and assistant principals to strengthen their capacity to engage in effective instructional leadership practices, and to use a variety of data for the purposes of instruction, supervision, evaluation, and the development of teachers. Principals must master core competencies or the necessary leadership skills within these areas in order to lead schools to higher levels of performance.

“Principals fulfill a key role in closing achievement gaps in our nation’s school. Congress must reauthorize ESEA and adopt the bill to provide school leaders with the knowledge, tools and resources to effectively lead schools, especially those that serve the nation’s most disadvantaged students,” said Gail Connelly, Executive Director of NAESP. “The demands on principals have never been greater as they work to meet the social, emotional, and cognitive needs of students to be college and career-ready. This bill is needed to improve principals’ access to and the quality of sufficient recruitment, preparation, and ongoing professional development programs. It reinforces the nation’s principal pipeline,” she added.

To carry out these activities, districts could form partnerships with nonprofit organizations or institutions of higher education to recruit, select, train, and support aspiring or current principals with track records of transforming student learning and outcomes and preparing these principals to lead the highest-need schools.

“Principals and assistant principals are responsible for the achievement of all students in their schools and deserve appropriate training, ongoing mentoring, and professional development that will help them meet the needs of students with diverse backgrounds and implement college and career readiness standards and new teacher evaluation systems,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, Executive Director of NASSP.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and 36 countries around the world. The association provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its longstanding commitment to student leadership development as well, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils.

Established in 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) is the leading national association representing elementary and middle school principals in the United States, Canada, and overseas. NAESP supports principals as the primary catalysts for creating lasting foundations for learning in their commitment to all children through policy development, advocacy, and resources for effective instructional leadership. The association seeks to advance the principals’ profession at the national level and address issues in pre-K–3 alignment, principal preparation and evaluation, and building the capacity of new principals. NAESP honors principals through its National Distinguished Principals program and administers a variety of professional services, including the National Mentor Certification program for principals.


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