Today, President Trump released his Administration’s first full budget request to fund the federal government in fiscal year 2018 (FY18). Congress will now consider that request as it finalizes actual funding levels through the FY18 appropriations process.
New Leaders believes—and a meaningful, growing evidence base confirms—that when it comes to supporting teachers to grow and improve their practice, and, ultimately, accelerate student achievement, leadership changes everything.
We are extremely disappointed that the Trump Administration has requested that Congress eliminate the School Leader Recruitment and Support Program (SLRSP), the only federal program specifically focused on investing in evidence-based, locally-driven strategies to strengthen school leadership in high-need schools.
In their justification for the program’s elimination, Administration officials state, “While school leadership is important, other Federal funds are available to support improved leadership in high-need schools.” Although it is true that other federal dollars can be used to invest in principal development and support, the reality is that leadership has been too-often overlooked and underfunded. In recognition of the fact that strong school leadership is central to improving schools and ensuring that all students get an excellent education, Congress chose to retain and strengthen this program under the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) rather than consolidate it. We wholeheartedly agree with that smart decision.
In its budget proposal, the Administration further states that SLRSP “has minimal national impact,” a claim that is not supported by the evidence. In fact, the School Leadership Program, the precursor to SLRSP, seeded some of the country’s most innovative and effective school leader development programs.
For example, New Leaders and our district and charter partners have benefitted from several SLP grants over the years, which has led to incredible results for the students we serve. A rigorous study by Mathematica found that students attending New Leader schools in Oakland Unified School District outgained similar students by four months in math and one and a half months in reading. A second, quasi-experimental study by the RAND Corporation found that students who attend New Leader schools across the country outperform their peers by a statistically significant margin.
Likewise, the NYC Leadership Academy (NYCLA), another SLP grantee that prepares school leaders for historically underserved communities, has driven impressive gains for students: a study by Institute for Education and Social Policy at NYU found that graduates cut ELA performance gaps in half and eliminated gaps in math in three years. Moreover, studies of the National Institute for School Leadership (NISL), an SLP partner that supports states and districts in providing executive development to strengthen school leadership, have found that students in schools led by NISL graduates achieve statistically significant gains across multiple subjects and all school levels. Further, these studies included large-scale implementations using NISL’s train-the-trainer model and showed that districts can achieve improvements in student learning in a particularly cost-effective and scalable way.
These programs offer a snapshot of how targeted federal investments in leadership have delivered immediate, positive results for the students most in-need. And, by studying and disseminating their results, we know these programs have also helped to galvanize dramatic changes to the school leadership sector as a whole.
Getting a well-prepared, well-supported principal in every school is a bipartisan cause, and effective school leadership is critical to delivering on ESSA’s promise of local control: strong, sustained, cost-efficient implementation of school improvement strategies that get results for kids in every classroom, every year.
As the FY2018 appropriations process moves forward, we strongly urge Congress to increase (or at minimum maintain) funding for SLRSP—a critical investment in our nation’s school leaders and, thereby, in the teachers, students, families, and communities they serve.
The following organizations have called on Congress to fund SLRSP at $30 million:
American Federation of School Administrators
AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation
BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)
Bloomington Public School District 87
Center for Research and Reform in Education, Johns Hopkins University
Center for the Study of Education Policy, Illinois State University
Chicago Public Schools
Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
Cuddle Care, Inc.
Deans for Impact
DuPage Regional Office of Education
Educators for Excellence
Governors State University
Hope Street Group
Illinois Education Association
Kappa Delta Pi
National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)
National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)
National Center on Education and the Economy
National Council of Professors of Educational Administration
National Council on Teacher Quality
National Network of State Teachers of the Year
National SAM Innovation Project (NSIP)
New Classrooms Innovation Partners
New Teacher Center
New York Educator Voice Fellowship
North Park University
NYC Leadership Academy
Ounce of Prevention Fund
Quincy Public Schools – District #172
Relay Graduate School of Education
Results for America
School of Education/Principal Endorsement Program, Aurora University
Schools That Can
Sonoma Charter School
Stand for Children
Success for All Foundation
Teach For America
University Council for Educational Administration