A bill before Congress seeks to create a grant program that would aid in recruiting, supporting and preparing principals to work in high-need middle and high schools schools.
The 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 Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) , Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Rep.Todd Russell Platts (R-Pa.)
Franken, who worked closely with NASSP on the bill and is leading the effort, said in a statement the well-trained leadership is 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,” Franken said in a statement.
Aspiring principals would participate in a residency program before taking over low-performing schools, and would continue to benefit from professional development. The current and aspiring principals would be required to spend four years at a school.
High-need schools are defined 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. In the case of the middle schools, they must feed into a high school with a graduation rate that meets that threshold.
Those clamoring for more methods of evaluating school performance besides Adequate Yearly Progress will be pleased that the legislation directs the Department of Education to use “multiple measures” in evaluating the improvement of schools led by grantee principals for three or more years.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.