Recognizing that principals can be powerful drivers of improved teaching and learning, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) opens new possibilities for federal support of efforts to improve school leadership. At the same time, the law requires that these efforts show evidence of effectiveness to be eligible for funding from a number of programs.
A RAND report, issued today, aims to inform readers about the law's major sources of funding for school leadership, ESSA's evidence requirements, and existing research that could qualify a school leadership activity for ESSA support under its most stringent evidence requirements.
Enacted in late 2015 as the successor to the No Child Left Behind law, ESSA is the major federal law governing K-12 education in the U.S. Its Title I section provides the largest source of federal funding for public schools in the U.S., some $15 billion to $16 billion yearly.
School Leadership Interventions Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (Volume I) makes clear that school leadership is a "valid target" of ESSA funding and describes several major programs within the law that can be used for leadership improvement. The report also describes ESSA's four categories-called "tiers"-of evidence, which help determine whether an activity is eligible for funding.
For some endeavors, including a number falling under ESSA's various Title II programs, evidence in any of the four tiers suffices or may even be waived by the state.
However, activities seeking Title I School Improvement Fund dollars qualify only if their evidence of effectiveness falls into at least one of the top three evidence tiers. In reviewing research literature, RAND identified 19 school leadership-related studies that met Tier I, II or III definitions. These studies cover subjects including principal preparation programs and professional development.
An accompanying RAND commentary may be especially useful to states and districts wanting a snapshot of the report and a summary of the activities with a research base that meets the requirements of the first three tiers.
Later this year, RAND is scheduled to release a second report describing school leadership studies that fit into Tier IV-and their implications for ESSA funding.
Both reports were commissioned by The Wallace Foundation.
Be sure to let us know what you think of this report or any of our knowledge products. Contact us at Emailalerts@wallacefoundation.org.
On behalf of The Wallace Foundation,
Director of Communications