NAESP Launches 2014 Advocacy Agenda; Leaders Push Legislation for Principals

By Kelly D. Pollitt Communicator February 2014, Volume 37, Issue 6

By Kelly D. Pollitt
February 2014, Volume 37, Issue 6

Next week, NAESP will launch its 2014 advocacy agenda during the Association’s National Leaders Conference, February 23-25, in Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The policy agenda for the second session of the 113th Congress focuses on the need for lawmakers to recognize the substantive role of principals, which was overlooked in the last iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Almost 200 elementary and middle-level principals and NAESP state affiliate leaders will go to Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress to reiterate the need for federal laws that direct states and districts to build the capacity of principals. Advocates will urge support for legislation aimed at increasing investment in programs for principal recruitment, preparation, and professional development.

Over the past several years, the principal’s role as the school’s instructional leader has become even more critical. New policies, such as new teacher evaluation systems and higher state standards, have placed unprecedented demands on educators, and especially principals. It is imperative that principals provide direction to federal lawmakers about how to better support instructional leadership.

NAESP advocates will reinforce the recommendations to lawmakers outlined in NAESP’s policy brief, Recruiting, Preparing and Building the Capacity of Effective Principals, which provides strategies to strengthen federal policies for the nation’s principals. Principal advocates will urge Congress to:

  • Direct no less than 10 percent of Federal Title II ESEA funds for professional development for principals. Currently, states spend less than 4 percent of Title II funds ($2.5 billion) on instructional leadership. This is a major discrepancy in federal policy as the requirements of the profession have not kept pace with reciprocal support. The recent policy brief Supporting Principals in Implementing Teacher Evaluation, calls on lawmakers to address Title II funding, recommending the provision for high-quality training, credentialing, and ongoing professional development on teacher evaluation for principals.

  • Strengthen support for school principals by adopting the provisions outlined in the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act (H.R. 1736 / S. 840). Provisions of this signature bill for principals are included in the Strengthening American Schools Act (S. 1094), which NAESP supported, as well as the Student Success Act, (H.R. 5).

  • Ensure that the federal role in principal evaluation is limited to guiding states and districts to set fair and objective principal evaluation systems consistent with the provisions of the Great Teachers and Leaders Bill, which includes recommendations from the 2012 NAESP report Rethinking Principal Evaluation.

  • Focus on achievement measures and accountability systems consider student growth and the multiple ways in which students learn, as well as make better use of assessment data outside of standardized test scores.

  • Create new policies that avoid the overuse of standardized assessment scores as the primary criterion to measure student performance. In addition, new policies should not overuse standardized assessment scores to rate, grade, or rank principal, teacher, or school effectiveness; allocate funds; or take punitive measures against schools and/or school personnel.

NAESP will continue to provide opportunities for all Association members to engage in advocacy after the initial launch of the 2014 agenda during the NLC, including the release of an interactive advocacy platform later this year. We hope that all members will engage in a variety of activities to influence federal, state, and local policies to better support the role of instructional leaders.

For more information as the advocacy agenda moves forward, please visit

Kelly D. Pollitt is Associate Executive Director for Policy, Public Affairs, and Special Projects at NAESP.

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