NPRC Best Practices: Federal Mandates—The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

NAESP National Principals Resource Center

Best Practices: Federal Mandates—
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)


ESSA Implementation: Creating and Sustaining Highly Effective Principals


Carmen Concepcion, Principal, Oaklawn Language Academy, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; Gina O’ Hare, Principal, Palisades Park Elementary School, Charlotte - Mecklenburg Schools; Tisha Greene, Principal, Oakhurst STEAM Academy, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; Nicole Cathey, Project Manager within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Leadership Development Office; and Moderator: Deborah Tyler, Associate Executive Director, NAESP


As state and local planning around programs and strategies to support teachers and leaders moves forward, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides the opportunity to create and sustain new learning opportunities for principals. While policymakers must identify evidence-based strategies that will best support the role of principals and other school leaders in the nation’s schools, the principal perspective must be considered as mechanisms for delivery are determined to best meet the needs of the practitioners in the system. Accomplished principals will share the latest research and analysis on evidence-based strategies to support the role of principals according to ESSA evidence tiers, discuss how ESSA provides states and districts with ample opportunities to provide on-going professional support for principals, and share key strategies for sustaining high quality professional learning communities for principals and other school leaders.

ESSA Implementation: Developing Effective Principals and Other School Leaders


Cortney Rowland, Senior Technical Assistance Consultant, American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center); Devon Horton, Deputy Superintendent, East St. Louis School District #189, East St. Louis, IL; and Kelly Pollitt, Chief Strategist, Policy and Alliances, NAESP


As states and districts look to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), evidence-based strategies must be identified to support effective educators. Recent analysis by the RAND Corp identified three kinds of principal support with tiered evidence that will help states and districts put into place viable strategies for improving student outcomes – including strengthening principal preparation and professional learning programs. Presenters will provide background on the evidence base surrounding high-quality principal preparation programs, including the alignment of professional standards as a key indicator of improved instructional leadership and better student outcomes. Leading researchers and practitioners will discuss the difference between ISLLC and the 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL), and explore how a district is working now to transform principal preparation programs. The presenters will be joined by district partners during this important case study.

ESSA Implementation: Leveraging State Opportunities to Support Principal Leadership


Robert Butts, Assistant Superintendent for Early Learning, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, State of Washington; Ron Sisson, Director of Principal Support and Elementary Programs, Association of Washington School Principals; and Moderator: Kelly Pollitt, Chief Strategist, Policy and Alliances, NAESP


The passage of the nation’s largest federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), shifts significant authority to the state and local levels in order to identify and target resources to support effective educators. ESSA is informed by over a decade of research and practice, which now underscores the importance of principal leadership. Evidence shows that effective principals and other school leaders are second only to teaching quality when considering school-based factors that contribute to student learning. As we move into ESSA implementation, states and local districts are faced with both challenges and opportunities to plan comprehensive reforms that include systemic support for principals and other school leaders. This presentation will provide an overview of the new law and how it supports states and districts to improve principal quality, as well as the latest research and analysis that shows investing in principal preparation and development are evidence-based strategies. State policymakers and representatives from the State of Washington will share how they are working to reorient state efforts to take advantage of the opportunities to support principals and improve student and related outcomes. Attendees will gain knowledge around specific strategies that may be a part of any state’s ESSA plan, and how to ensure that the new law’s implementation will recognize value and support the role of principals as the catalysts for reform.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): What Every Principal Should Know About the Law’s Accountability Requirements


Reg Leichty, Founding Partner, Foresight Law + Policy; Amy Starzinski, Founder and Partner, Foresight Law + Policy; and Kelly Pollitt, Chief Strategist, Policy and Alliances, NAESP


ESSA made far reaching changes to federal requirements governing state accountability systems. As states work over the next 12 months to develop and implement new accountability models in anticipation of the law’s full implementation by the 2017-18 school year, principals need to develop a working understanding of ESSA’s requirements related to measuring school performance, establishing ratings intervening in low performing schools, and reporting results to families and the public. This webinar will equip participants with the information they need to work effectively with district and state leaders to address these issues, including identifying the best possible range of indicators of school performance and how schools are identified for intervention.

The Nuts And Bolts of ESSA Series: What Principals Need to Know to Support High Quality Early Childhood Education and Leadership


Andrea Brinnel, Connecticut Office of Early Learning and NAECS-SDE Leadership Committee; Kelly Pollitt, Chief Strategist, Policy and Alliances, NAES


The “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) recently signed into law provides an unprecedented opportunity to support high quality early childhood education and educators working in Pre-K-3, particularly with alignment of standards, curriculum and instruction. The law also acknowledges the important role of principal leadership in early childhood education and joint efforts across early learning settings and school-based contexts to address the needs of young children. This webinar presentation will identify specific areas of the new law that directly support early childhood education, and explore how states and districts can provide programmatic opportunities, including professional learning, to help facilitate collaborative efforts between principals, teachers, early childhood educators and related practitioners.

Transitioning to the New Title I: Requirements in the “Every Student Succeeds Act” and How Principals Can Impact Implementation


Richard Long, Author and Consultant on State and Local Implementation of Title I and Kelly Pollitt, Chief Strategist, Policy and Alliances, NAESP


Now that President Obama has signed the “Every Student Succeeds Act” into law, states and local district leaders are moving ahead to craft plans to transition to the new Title 1 and other areas of the new law, while the U.S. Department of Education has taken the first steps in setting new Title 1 regulations. This webinar will discuss what principals need to know about the new Title 1 requirements on accountability, supplement not supplant, and other issues such as use of funds, what principals can impact as decisions are made, and how to manage schools through the transition period. Principals will have an opportunity for Q&A to highlight important issues and raise concerns as they enter a new era of education policy for schools.

Additional Resources

Resource imageSimulation:
“Finding and Leveraging Voice”

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This simulation is an interactive situation that will enable and enhance a reflection on the Emerging Policies and Trends that are occurring as a result of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Principals are important stakeholders in the evolving state plans, and this session will explore their thinking and expertise as well as the situations that are occurring in their states and districts that best serves their future engagement in the process. Try the simulation.

Resource imageU.S. Dept. of Ed., Sept 27, 2015:
“Building Systems of Support for Excellent Teaching and Leading Non-Regulatory Guidance for Title II Part A”

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Description: Great teachers, principals, and other school leaders (collectively, educators) matter enormously to the learning and the lives of children. Yet, we have struggled as a nation to meaningfully support educators so they can help their students be prepared to succeed in college and careers. The Title II, Part A program is designed, among other things, to provide students from low-income families and minority students with greater access to effective educators.

Resource imageCouncil of Chief State School Officers, June 2016:
“Let’s Get This Conversation Started: Strategies, Tools, Examples, and Resources to Help States”

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This guide was developed in consultation with 15 national advocacy and civil rights groups, and contains specific strategies on how best to connect with, speak to and learn from stakeholders with a unique perspective. Read more.

Resource imageRand Corporation:
“School Leadership Interventions Under the ESSA Act: Vol 1-A Review of the Evidence Base, Initial Findings”

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The RAND Corporation conducted a synthesis of the evidence base on school-leadership interventions to better inform the rollout of school-leadership interventions under ESSA. This report is intended to help federal, state, and district education policymakers understand and implement school-leadership-improvement efforts that are consistent with ESSA. Read more.

Resource imageNational Education Association:
“ESSA Implementation Begins”

Resource imageEducation Counsel: August 2016
“Summary Analysis of Ed’s Proposed ESSA Regulations”

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On May 31, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released its first round of draft regulations regarding implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on accountability, state plans and data deporting. Comments on those draft regulations were due August 1, 2016. Subsequently, on July 11, 2016, ED released draft regulations for state assessments under Title I, including Title I, part A (statewide assessments) and Title I, part B (Innovative Assessment and Accountability Demonstration Authority) of ESSA. The Title I, part A proposed regulations for statewide assessments come directly from the language approved during negotiated rulemaking on this topic in the spring of 2016. Public comments on all of the proposed assessment regulations must be submitted by September 9, 2016. Final regulations for each of these areas (which will have the force of law) are expected in the fall of 2016. Additional draft regulations including on "supplement not supplant" requirements are expected to be released this summer. This is a revised summary analysis for all of ED's proposed ESSA regulations to date. Read the paper.

“Brief Summary Of The Every Student Succeeds Act”

Resource imageNAESP, Sept 30, 2016:
“ESSA Guidance and Related Materials”

NAESP Conference Presentations

Presentation imageLeadership Simulations Harness Power of Experience for Engaging PD for Experienced and Aspiring School Leaders

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Primary Presenter

Ken Spero, MBA - Ed Leadership SIMS


In Leadership, skills are essential, but Experience is often missing. Experience implies using good judgment in the most complex situations. We know Experience is the Best Teacher, but we would frown upon a surgeon who practices on her patients. Simulations enable leaders to gain Experience without putting students in danger.

View presentation slides.