The Principals' Office Blog

Reading Gains at the Elementary Level

Reading scores among elementary-level students have been increasing while scores for middle school and high school students have stayed the same or declined, according to a new study released by the National Endowment for the Arts. “To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence” finds that Americans are spending less time reading; reading comprehension skills are eroding; and these declines have serious civic, social, cultural, and economic implications. The study also finds that reading for pleasure, which is increasing at the elementary level, decreases in late adolescence.

Read “Best Practices for Achieving High, Rapid Reading Gains” from the November/December issue of Principal magazine to learn about how to increase the percentage of proficient readers at your school.

Principals Promote Reading

What do a wide-mouthed frog, a friendly fish, a kid who loves sweets, Farmer Brown, and Dogzilla have in common? They are characters in the five books that are finalists for the 2008 NAESP Principal’s Read Aloud Award.

Read the five nominated books out loud to your students and vote for the one you think should be honored with the award. The National Principals Resource Center offers all five titles at reasonable rates—buy them for your school library if you don’t already have them. 

Once you’ve read each book, go to to vote. There will be a presentation to the winning author in April 2008 during NAESP’s Annual Convention and Exposition in Nashville.

NAESP is also taking nominations for the 2009 award. If you have a book you have enjoyed reading to children, submit your name and the title, author/illustrator, and publisher of a book currently in print and readily available to

Principals Are on YouTube

School principals are in the blogosphere, they’re podcasting, and now they’re on YouTube. Four NAESP members are featured on YouTube in a 60-second public service announcement discussing the future of schools and the Vision 2021 initiative. You can access the video on the YouTube Web site by typing “NAESP” into the search engine.

YouTube is just two years old but continues to be a favorite site for sharing and viewing short video clips and has even made a mark in the political arena. Earlier this year, CNN aired a presidential debate and candidates answered questions submitted by YouTube users.

According to Nielsen/NetRatings, nearly 100 million video clips are viewed daily on YouTube and the site averages nearly 20 million visitors per month. Now we can add school principals to the list!

A Slam Dunk for D.C.-area Schools

NBA star Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards has selected 82 schools from the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to be participants in his Scores for Schools program. Each of the schools will be assigned to one of the Wizards’ 82 games during the 2007-2008 season and will receive $100 for every point Arenas scores during that game. Last season, Arenas averaged 28.4 points per game, which added up to about $3,000 for each selected school.

Arenas will foot the bill for each of the 41 home games, while Wizards owner Abe Pollin will put up his own money for the 41 away games the team will play. Last year, Pollin and Arenas donated almost $215,000 to D.C.-area schools.

With much of the negative press that professional athletes get these days, it’s nice to know that some of them are doing good things in the community and looking out for their young fans—and the schools they attend. Thanks, Gilbert and Abe!

What’s Scary This Halloween?

Rashes, boils, pustules, fever, and chills—oh my! This year, influenza is not the only scary health issue that schools should prepare for. Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or staph skin infections, have been appearing in schools across the nation.The Centers for Disease Control provides information about staph infections and how schools can handle the threat at

Happy Anniversary!

The Principals’ Office turns 1 today. During the past year we have covered topics like the reauthorization of ESEA, the future of schools and education, and educating the whole child—which have garnered close to 30,000 visitors and many insightful comments. In the year ahead, you can look forward to more engaging posts that connect you with your colleagues.

Since its debut, the Principals’ Office has been joined by NAESP state affiliate blogs from Texas, North Dakota, and Washington. Here’s to another year in the blogosphere.

Power to the Principal

New Orleans joins a handful of cities whose districts give autonomy to public school principals. Following the lead of school districts in New York City, San Francisco, and Oakland, California, Recovery District superintendent Paul Vallas aims to give principals authority to hire their staff, as well as control over their budgets, according to The Times-Picayune.

Following a charter school model, principals in the state-run New Orleans schools will have the independence to recruit and hire their own teachers and academic support staff, and control the use of federal Title I grant money, beginning next school year. In the latest issue of Principal magazine, authors Steven Adamowski and Michael J. Petrilli weigh in on the issue of bridging the autonomy gap.

Simply the Best!

NAESP, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education, held its annual National Distinguished Principals program last Thursday and Friday and it was a great success. Sixty-one outstanding elementary and middle school principals from schools across the nation and abroad were honored at the Capitol Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.

During the program, principals described how receiving the award has positively impacted them in their communities. It was such a treat to hear them discuss their commitment to their schools and communities and it’s great for them to receive the recognition they deserve. Several principals were interviewed during the program by their local TV news affiliates and many others have been featured in their local newspapers. (Some of the articles can be read on the NAESP Web site at

A black-tie awards banquet on Friday capped the two-day event. Gail Connelly, NAESP’s executive director, and Ray Simon, the deputy secretary for the Department of Education, thanked the principals for their tremendous dedication to their schools and communities. Congrats to the 2007 Class of National Distinguished Principals. Simply the best!

Veto Override Vote

You know better than most that the basic health and wellness of your students is vital to their learning successfully in school. The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill, H.R. 976, was vetoed by President Bush last week. On Thursday, Oct. 18, the U.S. House will try to override his veto, requiring a 2/3s majority of the present members voting in favor of the override. Contact your legislators today and ask that they vote in favor of the veto override! Go to the Federal Legislative Action center at and scroll down to e-mail your representative.

Boomers in the Classroom

As the famed baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, many states are taking advantage of this population as a pool for school volunteers. Read about a former state-government employee who is spending her retirement years as a volunteer in a Baltimore elementary school in “States turn to seniors for help in classrooms”.

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