The 2015 National Leaders Conference is scheduled for February 22-24, 2015, at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, VA.


Highlights of the 2014 National Leaders Conference

NAESP’s annual National Leaders Conference (NLC), brings nearly 200 principals from across the country together to Washington, D.C. to engage with top education thought leaders and lawmakers. A key highlight of the conference, held Sunday, February 23 to Tuesday, February 25, was the launch of NAESP’s 2014 advocacy agenda

Principals met with members of Congress to advocate for supportive education policies based on NAESP’s advocacy agenda. The agenda comprises strategies to strengthen federal policies for the nation’s principals, including boosting funding for principals’ professional development, pressing for fair and objective principal evaluation systems, and focusing on accountability systems consider student growth.

Many principals shared moments from their meetings via Twitter, snapping photos with lawmakers and on the steps of the Capitol. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) tweeted back: “Chatted with Kailua & Kahaluu Elementary principals in town for NAESP’s NLC. Mahalo for all you do.”

Principals prepared for these visits with a series of sessions on education policy issues. In a key panel, Deborah Delisle, assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education at the U.S. Department of Education, and Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, explored principals’ challenging task of implementing Common Core amidst new teacher evaluation systems and tight budgets.

“We have to do a more robust job of getting information to communities about Common Core, to cut through the misunderstanding,” said Delisle.

Minnich emphasized that principals play a key role in speaking out about the realities of implementation in their schools.

“You are the folks that can win this,” he said.

In a question-and-answer session that followed, principals asked Delisle and Minnich (pictured, right, with moderator Kris Kurtenbach) about professional development for principals, community support systems, and teacher evaluations. Delisle stressed that multiple measures of success are vital, and that states can often rush accountability systems without carefully considering metrics.

To guide discussions with legislators on teacher evaluation, participants learned that afternoon about NAESP’s newly released policy brief on teacher evaluation. Supporting Principals in Implementing Teacher Evaluation Systems, released jointly with NASSP, offers policymakers seven recommendations to bolster principals in the evaluation process.

Rounding out the conference’s examination of evaluations, John Cronin of the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) gave a presentation on value-added measurements. Cronin, director of the Kingsbury Center at NWEA, said principals should be evaluated on their abilities to create great teams.

“What a good principal does is produce gains over time, and boost [the school] environment,” said Cronin. “[But] you can’t evaluate a principal’s impact in a year … We need to look at improvement over time.”

His presentation, which explores how data must be analyzed with context and judgment, is available here.

The NLC agenda also included briefings on federal policy, an exploration of the federal education budget with Joel Packer of the Committee for Education Funding, and an update on the National Education Association’s initiatives from Bill Raabe. David Meerman Scott rounded out the schedule with a presentation on strategies principals can use to boost engagement online for both their schools and their state associations. He reminded leaders that building community involves more than focusing on what you do; it requires focusing on the people (fellow educators, parents, etc.) you are trying to reach.

NLC culminated with the presentation of the Congressional Champion Award for legislators who work on behalf of the nation’s principals. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Representative Susan Davis (D-CA) received this year’s award for their commitment to principals through their School Principal Recruitment and Training Act. The bill, written with input from NAESP and principals, serves to strengthen federal policies for instructional leaders.

Minnesota principals met with Franken (pictured, left) to present him with the award.

“Senator Franken is a champion of educators,” tweeted Steven Geis, principal of North Trail Elementary in Farmington, Minnesota, from Franken’s office.

NAESP President Nancy Meador presented Davis with the award in a reception at the Capitol. Davis thanked principals for their hard, often underappreciated, work.

“You all make a huge difference,” said Davis, a former school board member. “[One] reason I am here today is that we want you engaged in public policy. It’s so important to express [your] views.”

Meador wrapped up the conference by thanking principals for raising their voices together, touting her motto that “principals make it happen.”


Visit NAESP's Storify page for Twitter highlights from NLC.

Visit NAESP on Flickr for more photos from the event.



Goals of the National Leaders Conference

  1. Focus on strategic advocacy, leadership and membership issues, including important policy briefings in preparation for a day of visits to Capitol Hill;
  2. Provide the opportunity to conduct governance activities as dictated by NAESP Bylaws, including a meeting of the Delegate Assembly;
  3. Allow leaders to meet candidates for Zone Director positions and hear from candidates for NAESP President-elect prior to the spring election (March 1-30 is the voting window);
  4. Feature dynamic speakers on timely, relevant issues; and
  5. Prepare NAESP State Representatives and gear up for a renewed membership campaign to begin in the late spring and continue into the fall.


Please call or email Nancy Sharbel at or 703-518-6255.

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