January 13, 2010
Contact: Aaron Hunter 202-225-2040
Reps. Susan Davis and Platts, Sens. Franken and Hatch Introduce Companion Bills on School Principal Recruitment And Training
Bill Creates New Program to Attract and Support High-Caliber School Leaders
Washington – Reps. Susan Davis (D-Calif), Todd Russell Platts (R-Pa.), U.S. Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) introduced the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The legislation would create a new competitive grant program to recruit, support, and prepare high-caliber aspiring and current principals to lead high-need schools.
Research shows that school leadership is second only to teacher quality among school-related factors in its impact on student learning. While teacher quality has the greatest impact, principal quality is a key determinant of whether schools can attract and retain effective teachers. When the No Child Left Behind Act is reauthorized, the Federal government will likely provide further resources to help high-need schools improve student achievement. Without effective principals at their helm, high-need schools will have difficulty using these resources to engage in meaningful reform.
“It takes a strong leader to turn around a struggling school,” Rep. Davis said. “An inspirational principal at the helm can make an enormous difference in a school’s direction. We are introducing legislation to recruit and train a new generation of school leaders that have the ability to inspire change.”
“As we approach the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, it is critical that we look to the schools that are beating the odds, and determine how to replicate their success,” said Sen. Franken. “One of the most common features of successful schools in high-need communities is the presence of an effective school principal. But despite the importance of school leadership, the federal government has not devoted adequate attention and resources to improving the quality of principals in schools. Our bill will create a pipeline of effective principals for high-need schools by providing high-quality programs with funding to recruit and train principals to take on the challenge of leading those schools.”
“In recent years, the federal government has rightly focused on the need to improve student achievement in underperforming schools. Without effective leadership in such schools, however, it will be very difficult to achieve meaningful reforms,” said Rep. Platts. “This legislation seeks to train a new generation of school principals and help them lead our efforts in closing the achievement gap and preparing America’s students to compete in the global economy.”
The quality of preparation that principals receive influences both their willingness to take on the challenge of leading high-need schools and their willingness to remain in their positions. By preparing principals for this challenge, the bill will help address the shortage of qualified principals and the high turnover rate among principals at high-need schools.
The grants will be awarded to school districts (and to other entities, such as non-profits and universities, that establish partnerships with school districts) for high-quality training programs that prepare principals to improve student academic achievement in high-need schools. Each grantee will recruit, train, and support high-caliber aspiring and current principals who commit to serving at least four years in high-need schools.
For aspiring (pre-service) principals, programs will provide:
- A one-year residency at a school under the wing of a mentor principal.
- Coursework with a focus on instructional leadership, organizational management, and the effective use of data.
- Ongoing support and professional development for at least two years after participants begin work as principals.
For current principals, programs will provide:
- Mentoring and professional development on instructional leadership, data usage, and organizational management that will be tailored to the needs of individual principals and their schools.
Grantees can apply to renew their grants or scale up their efforts every five years based on their performance. The primary factor in assessing each grantee’s performance will be whether schools led by principals trained by the grantee’s program have obtained greater student academic achievement gains than comparable schools.
The bill will provide funding for a high quality evaluation of the programs funded by the bill, and for the dissemination of the best practices of effective programs.