Bennet, Franken, and Rep. Davis Introduce Bill to Improve Principal Recruitment, Training Efforts

Bill Would Provide Tools to Address Shortage of Skilled Principals in High-Need Schools

Washington, DC - Today, U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to help struggling schools by making key investments in the recruitment and training of effective principals.

The School Principal Recruitment and Training Act would create a new competitive grant program to recruit, support, and prepare aspiring and current principals to lead high-need schools. According to University of Minnesota research, school leadership is second only to teacher quality among school-related factors that impact student learning.

"Recruiting and training quality principals is vital to improving our public schools," Sen. Bennet said. "Effective principal leadership can increase student achievement, attract and retain great teachers, and transform school culture. We have to do a better job of recruiting, training, and supporting our principals so they, along with our teachers, can help students learn and succeed. This bill will help create high-quality training programs that produce great principals."

"Our schools need great principals to succeed," Sen. Franken said. "But unfortunately, too few principals are prepared to lead high-need schools. This legislation would change that by investing in proven strategies to recruit and train high-caliber principals who take the next step in making our schools the best they can be. As Congress works on a comprehensive reform to our country's K-12 education policy, I will be pressing to get this measure included."

"An inspirational principal at the helm can make an enormous difference in a school's direction," Rep. Davis said. "Currently, only five percent of federal funding for teacher preparation goes toward principle training. This legislation would provide resources for communities to recruit and train a new generation of strong school leaders with the ability to inspire academic success and turn around struggling schools."

The School Principal Recruitment and Training Act, which Sen. Franken originally introduced in 2009, would do the following:

  • Create a Competitive Grant Program. The bill will provide competitive grants to school districts (and partnerships between school districts and other entities) to recruit and prepare talented candidates to lead high-need schools;
  • Put a Focus on Instructional Leadership and Data Usage. In contrast to typical principal preparation programs, programs funded under the bill will focus on training current and aspiring principals to become instructional leaders, and to use student data to inform school improvement efforts;
  • Establish a Year-Long Residency and Two Years of Follow-Up Support. The programs for aspiring principals will combine coursework with hands-on learning through a year-long residency at a school under the wing of a mentor principal. These programs will also provide their graduates with additional professional development and support for at least two years after they begin their work as principals;
  • Institute Accountability for Results. Grantees will compete to renew their grants or scale up their efforts based on their performance. The primary determinant of each grantee's performance will be whether schools led by principals trained by the grantee's program have obtained greater student achievement gains than comparable schools; and
  • Research and Evaluate. The bill will fund both a high-quality evaluation of the grantees' programs and the dissemination of the best practices of effective programs.

You can read a summary of the bill here and download a copy of the legislative text here.

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