Reston, VA.–The importance of principals in school improvement efforts is finally being acknowledged in a recently released report by the Aspen Institute´s Commission on No Child Left Behind, but the recommendations included in the report fall short of truly addressing the needs of today´s middle level and high schools.

The Commission recommends establishing a definition of Highly Effective Principal (HEP). Under the proposal, states would have four years to implement a system to designate principals as HEPs. Principals who are employed by a school that does not make adequate yearly progress could have his or her HEP status revoked if the school does not make AYP after corrective action interventions.

"While it is important to acknowledge the role principals play in influencing student achievement, the Commission´s recommendations on HEP are not designed to build incentives for a profession which has become increasingly difficult to perform," stated National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) executive director Gerald N. Tirozzi, "if enacted, this recommendation will discourage aspiring principals from applying for available positions, for fear of facing additional sanctions without the necessary resources."

NASSP is also concerned about the Highly Qualified Effective Teachers (HQET) recommendation, which requires teachers to demonstrate effectiveness in the classroom through the learning gains of their students using a "value-added" methodology. No matter how well students perform, only 75% of teachers can obtain HQET status in a single year and 25% will always be underachievers.

"While the problem the recommendation seeks to address is real–the least qualified teachers are assigned to the most vulnerable students–the recommendation will only exacerbate the situation. Why would anyone choose to work in a Title I school under these circumstances? The result will be good teachers and principals fleeing to the suburbs where schools don´t have to rely on Title I funding."

While NASSP supports recommendations around growth models, longitudinal data systems and the creation of voluntary national content standards, overall, the commission´s report can be described as a highly intrusive, sledgehammer approach to what is a very complex issue.

For a closer look at NASSPs No Child Left Behind recommendations, visit our website,

The National Association of Secondary School Principals–the preeminent organization and the national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals and aspiring school leaders–provides its members with the professional resources to serve as visionary leaders. NASSP promotes the intellectual growth, academic achievement, character development, leadership development, and physical well-being of youth through its programs and student leadership services. NASSP sponsors the National Honor Society, the National Junior Honor Society, and the National Association of Student Councils. For more information on NASSP, NHS, NJHS, or NASC, visit .

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