A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress last month seeks to create a grant program that would aid in recruiting, supporting, and preparing principals to work in high-need middle and high schools.
The proposed School Principal Recruitment and Training Act, which would add the grant as an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, was developed with the National Association of Secondary School Principals and is sponsored by Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Reps. Susan Davis, D-Calif., and Todd R. Platts, R-Pa.
Sen. Franken, who worked closely with the NASSP on the bill and is leading the effort, said in a statement that well-trained leaders are necessary to turn around the nation’s lowest-performing schools, a key goal of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
“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,” he said.
Aspiring principals would participate in a residency program before taking over low-performing schools, and would continue to benefit from professional development. They would be required to spend four years at a school.
High-need schools are defined in the bill as those with at least 40 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals and/or a graduation rate of 65 percent or less. Middle schools would have to feed into a high school with a graduation rate that met the threshold.
The bill would direct the U.S. Department of Education to use multiple measures, not just information on adequate yearly progress, in evaluating the improvement of schools led by grantee principals for three or more years.
A version of this article appeared in the January 20, 2010 edition of Education Week as Grants Eyed to Recruit Skilled Principals