Today, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Teacher and School LEADERS Act, a bill to amend Title II of the Higher Education Act (HEA) to enhance the preparation and development of teachers, principals, and other school leaders.

“The proposal put forth today by Senators Cornyn, Bennet, Scott, and Warner highlights what research and our experience have long shown: school leadership matters greatly for students,” said Jean Desravines, CEO of New Leaders. “We are especially encouraged by the bill’s recognition that a large and growing number of teachers, principals, and other school leaders are trained through nontraditional programs. The proposal would provide the opportunity for a wider array of innovative and effective programs to partner and compete for funding under Title II—while also being held accountable for delivering real results for kids. By focusing on research-based practices and evidence of effectiveness, the bill advances a crucial goal: getting well-prepared, well-supported leaders in every school, especially those serving the students and communities most in need.”

New Leaders was among a group of 33 organizations that sent a letter to the Senators expressing support for the bill, which incorporates school leadership in a far more robust way than it is under current law.

“Getting well-prepared, well-supported leaders in every school is a bipartisan cause,” the coalition states. “We thank [the Senators] for [their] continued efforts to advance effective, equitable leadership.”

Of particular note, the Teacher and School LEADERS Act would:

Expand the Teacher Quality Partnerships (TQP) program—renamed the Teacher, Principal, and Other School Leader Quality Enhancement program—beyond teachers to fund the preparation and support of teacher leaders, principals, and other school leaders.

Update current law such that the new Teacher, Principal, and Other School Leader Quality Enhancement program would support—and make eligible for grant funding—a wider range of programs that prepare teachers, principals, and schools leaders as long as they meet clear standards of quality, including those run by institutions of higher education as well as nonprofits and other entities that provide alternative routes to educator certification, such as states, districts, education service agencies, and charter management organizations.

In addition, the Teacher and School LEADERS Act would:

Add a new priority for high-quality applicants whose practices have the strongest evidence of effectiveness, directing federal funds toward programs and partnerships proven to make a difference for students;

Adopt an improved definition and uses of funds for school leader residencies that reflect research-based elements;

Incorporate school leadership programs into accountability measures within the bill, supporting greater transparency and fostering continuous program improvement;

Help ensure that teachers and school leaders are empowered to use data as a tool to support student learning, and that educator preparation programs have the information they need to improve how they prepare their future educators for success;

Include a stronger focus on high-need schools, advancing equity by targeting educator quality improvement efforts that support the students and communities with greatest need; and

Ensure greater alignment between the HEA and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including by simplifying and streamlining definitions and provisions.

The HEA has been overdue for reauthorization since 2014, and New Leaders is pleased to see continued Congressional interest in making critical updates to the law, especially with regard to educator preparation and development. As Congress continues to debate proposals to reauthorize HEA, we encourage Members to incorporate these important improvements to Title II.

Read the coalition letter.