School Leaders Need a Stronger Voice in Education Reform Says Principals’ Union

WASHINGTON—Greater input from school leaders is essential for quality education reform, said a leading principals’ union today in a letter to Senators addressing the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The American Federation of School Administrators, AFL-CIO, voiced its support for many of the initiatives included in the Senate’s answer to reauthorizing ESEA, the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 (SASA), but expressed concern over the legislation’s lack of input from school leaders.

“We feel strongly that greater input from principals is a must if this law is going to reach its intended goals,” said AFSA President Diann Woodard. “In the past, SASA has relied heavily on teacher and superintendent input, while essentially ignoring the input of principals who are the operational leaders of our schools. If we want to see progress in our public schools, this needs to change.”

Included with the letter were AFSA’s recommendations for effective principal evaluation and training, which called for an increase in evidence-based assessments and clearly defined rubrics for principal evaluations. The letter also called for:

  • multiple, high-quality assessments and indicators for measuring student achievement and evaluating educators;
  • achievement metrics to account for special populations including ELL students, students with disabilities and low-income students;
  • test scores to factor into principal evaluations at the local level;
  • an increase in principal preparation programs with at least six months of shadowing an experienced principal; and
  • ongoing professional development for all school leaders in at least Common Core Curriculum and Standards, assessments; data analyses, technology and evaluations.

“Daily demands for principals have grown dramatically over the last decade,” said Woodard. “It is critical that principal preparation programs develop more comprehensive training models to adequately prepare our school leaders for those demands and that we implement evaluations that are effective and progressive rather than purely punitive.”