National Association of Secondary School Principals

views updated May 18 2018


The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is a national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and aspiring school leaders, providing its members the professional resources to serve as visionary leaders. The association was formed in 1916 by a group of seventy-eight high school principals from seven Midwestern states who met in Chicago, Illinois, to establish a professional organization. Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, the NASSP promotes the intellectual growth, academic achievement, character development, leadership development, and physical well-being of young people through its programs and student leadership services.

With nearly 37,000 members in the United States, Canada, and around the world, the NASSP is the largest organization serving middle level and high school administrators. Although most members are principals and assistant principals at public, private, and parochial secondary schools, the association's membership also includes aspiring principals, teachers, professors of secondary education, and retired educators.

A National Voice

Providing a national voice for principals across the United States is a key objective of the NASSP. As such, the association represents its members before the U.S. Congress and executive agencies of the federal government, monitors federal legislation directly affecting education, writes and delivers testimony before congressional committees, and assists members in advocating for state and federal policies to improve secondary education.

The NASSP supports federal policy initiatives that provide for secondary school programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), that require mandatory funding for the federal government's share of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), that provide efforts to lessen the impact of the principal shortage, and that guarantee that federal funding is available for the professional development of principals. Specifically, secondary school programs under the ESEA should include school safety initiatives, dropout prevention programs, enhanced curriculum, technology in schools, and developmental reading and writing programs in middle level and high schools.

Information and Resources

The NASSP provides a variety of publications, resources, and programs designed to assist school leaders in their school improvement process and to enhance student achievement. The NASSP Bulletin, a peer-refereed quarterly research journal, is aimed at secondary school administrators and is widely used in graduate-level principal preparation courses. Each issue of the Bulletin contains research and scholarly articles that develop a particular theme, such as instructional leadership, funding and equity, teacher recruitment and retention, standards and assessment, and alternative scheduling. Additional essays on other educational issues are also usually included. In September 2000, the NASSP launched the middle school and high school editions of Principal Leadership magazine. Principal Leadership, published monthly from September through May, offers practical, hands-on strategies for school leaders. Articles appearing in Principal Leadership are submitted by practitioners and offer personal insight into a host of educational issues.

Monographs, special reports, and in-depth studies supplement the regular NASSP publications. In 1996, in partnership with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the NASSP released the groundbreaking report Breaking Ranks: Changing an American Institution. This report presents recommendations for restructuring high schools in ways that contribute to academic success. Unlike other reports, Breaking Ranks embodies a vision developed primarily by high school principals. It draws strength and authority from the fact that it arises from the inside.

Turning Points 2000, by Anthony W. Jackson and Gayle A. Davis, is a Carnegie Corporation project published by Teachers College Press and co-published and distributed by the NASSP and the National Middle School Association. Affirming and extending the original 1989 Turning Points model, which is considered the definitive work on reform at the middle school level, Turning Points 2000 places greater emphasis on teaching and learning, and on the principal's role in ensuring that the focus of reform efforts is directed toward improving curriculum, assessment, and instruction. Together, Turning Points 2000 and Breaking Ranks are the centerpieces for school improvement programs in the nation's middle level and high schools.


In 2001 the NASSP announced the formation of three national task forcesMiddle School Principalship, High School Principalship, and Principal Preparation. Comprising principals, assistant principals, and professors, these task forces identify best practices in school leadership and in the preparation and development of school leaders; assist in disseminating these practices; advise the NASSP on the development and implementation of standards impacting principal preparation and practice; identify pertinent research topics; and contribute articles for NASSP publications.

To further support its legislative priorities, and in response to members' needs, the NASSP added two Resident Practitioners to the national staff in 2000one with expertise in creating safe and orderly schools and one with expertise in special education. These practitioners are available to answer members' questions and conduct presentations to large groups of educational leaders.

Cities and states nationwide report principal vacancies and a lack of qualified candidates willing to fill the positions. The Principal, Keystone of a High-Achieving School: Attracting and Keeping the Leaders We Need, prepared in 2000 by the Educational Research Service for the NASSP and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, estimates that more than 40 percent of public school principals will retire by 2010. This report identifies the characteristics of effective principals, discusses factors contributing to the shortage, and suggests steps toward breaking down the barriers to attracting and retaining quality school leaders. With more than twenty years experience in assessment and development of instructional leaders, the NASSP, through its leadership development and assessment programs, assists school districts with the identification and development of potential school leaders. These highly personalized programs measure leadership potential by diagnosing individual strengths and development needs essential to effective leaders.

The association holds an annual convention that attracts more than 5,000 school leaders. The convention offers general sessions featuring speakers of national and international reputation; more than 200 concurrent sessions with distinct middle level and high school strands; exhibits featuring the latest in school technology, curriculum materials, and school supplies; school visits to explore exemplary programs; and informal networking opportunities.

Association programs and services, while most directly focused on the needs of secondary school leaders, also directly touch the lives of students. The NASSP sponsors the National Honor Society (NHS), National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), and National Association of Student Councils (NASC). In 2000 more than 18,000 local NHS/NJHS chapters recognized students for scholarship, character, service, and leadership. In addition, more than 18,000 schools affiliated with the NASC. Leadership for Student Activities magazine, published monthly from September through May, provides NHS, NJHS, and NASC advisers and their student leaders with timely articles on leadership topics and ideas for student-centered projects. Three standing committees, the Executive Board of the National Association of Student Councils, the NHS/NJHS Council, and the National Committee on Contests and Activities, ensure that the NASSP maintains its prominent position in the area of student leadership development.

The Trust to Reach Education Excellence (TREE) foundation was created to make grants available to educators and students who would ordinarily not have access to outstanding education opportunities. TREE makes grants to tax-exempt accredited school districts, individual public and private schools, and students. In addition, the TREE 5K, held at the annual convention, raises money for the foundation grants program.

Organizational Structure

The NASSP is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization. The association's twenty-four-member board of directors works with the executive director and staff to set the NASSP goals, priorities, and policies. The board includes two members from each of eight geographic regions; four members who speak for under-represented groups; and two members elected at large (a middle level principal and an assistant principal). The association's president and presidentelect also serve on the board of directors. A steering committee, composed of the president, presidentelect, and a board member chosen by the board, oversees association operations between board meetings, which are held four times each year. The NASSP also works cooperatively with fifty-four affiliated state and regional principals' organizations throughout the United States. Individuals who hold membership in both national and state organizations enjoy a range of complementary services.


Several categories of membership are offered by the NASSP, each providing a wide range of benefits and services. Individual membership is open to persons engaged in the practice or supervision of middle level or high school administration. Individual membership is not transferable. Institutional membership is also open to persons engaged in the practice or supervision of middle level or high school administration. Institutional members receive all the benefits of individual membership. An institutional membership is in the name of an individual, but is owned by the school. Consequently, an institutional membership is transferable. Educator membership is open to graduate students enrolled in programs in educational administration, professors, parents, and teachers not engaged in administration. NASSP also offers a membership to retired school administrators.

internet resource

National Association of Secondary School Principals. 2002. <>.

Timothy J. McManus

National Association of Elementary School Principals

views updated May 23 2018


The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) is a professional association dedicated to the professional development of principals serving grades kindergarten through eight. In addition, it seeks to provide a unified voice for its members in local, state, and national policy debates on issues affecting education and school administration. Finally, it seeks to make available resources and other forms of professional support to its members, with the aim of developing high standards of conduct and preparation within the profession.


The association carries out its mission in three general spheres of activity. First among these is a series of newsletters. The official newsletter for the organization is the Principal, a magazine published bimonthly throughout the school year. Every issue is usually dedicated to a particular theme of interest to members of the profession. Recent issues have been devoted to such topics as the debate on establishing national curriculum standards, career development for veteran teachers, and children's health and safety in the schools. In addition to the magazine, the organization also publishes a number of newsletters devoted to special topics, including Commentator, which reports on policies and association news and events. Another newsletter, Here's How, offers practical solutions to common problems faced by elementary school administrators. Other special-interest publications include Streamlined Seminar and Research Roundup, both of which present the results of recent research in school administration topics; Middle Matters, aimed specifically at principals serving in the nation's middle schools; and Student News Today, which focuses on working with student councils and other student organizations.

The national organization is also committed to working closely with local and regional associations, and the primary means of accomplishing this is through its field services program. Association members are available as speakers and consultants who can advise interested groups about school administration issues and about projects and programs that show promise in helping to strengthen schools. In addition, the NAESP provides a number of direct-to-members services, such as legal assistance for job-related concerns, both in the area of professional liability and for job-protection suits. It also offers access to a wide variety of educational resources at reduced cost.

The most important event on the NAESP annual calendar is the professional conference hosted by the association each year. In addition to seminars, panel discussions, and workshops, the annual conference provides members with an opportunity to raise their particular professional concerns with the governing board, to network with their peers, and to seek new employment opportunities. The association also sponsors smaller summer conferences in cooperation with other national educational organizations.


The NAESP is an autonomous organization with strong ties to the National Education Association (NEA). Its basic governing body is the delegate assembly, whose members are chosen by the individual state associations. This assembly meets annually during the convention and is responsible for establishing policy and responding to the concerns raised by the general membership. A smaller, fifteen-member board of directors is selected by the assembly and consists of three officers, nine regional representatives, a member representing ethnic minorities, a representative of middle school principals, and an executive director. The board appoints the various committees that help in carrying out NAESP business, including a nominating committee charged with selecting the next year's candidates for office and a publications committee, which works closely with the NAESP's full-time editorial staff. The executive director, supported by a professional staff, oversees the day-to-day operation of the association at the national headquarters.

Membership and Financial Support

The NAESP has several different categories of membership. At the heart of the organization are the active members who are all professionally engaged in the administration of elementary schools. Associate membership is available to faculty at universities and colleges who share the NAESP's interests but who are not themselves principals or vice principals. A growing membership category is the international associates, made up of principals, headmasters, and other elementary school administrators from out-side the United States. The NAESP has in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century become increasingly interested in exploring strategies and policies that have worked well in school programs outside of the United States, with the hope that some may provide useful new insights in addressing local needs and problems. A final membership category comprises aspiring principals: teachers, students, and others who hope to become administrators in elementary and middle schools. Institutional and library memberships are also available.

The NAESP gains much of its operating revenues through its membership dues and through the sale of publications, resource kits, and other services. These funds are supplemented by support from a number of corporate and private donors, who contribute funds toward NAESP-sponsored awards programs. In addition, the association has forged a number of partnerships with corporations that offer services and resources, such as retirement plans or educational and administrative resources.


While taking a summer school course in school administration offered by the University of Chicago, a group of principals got together to discuss the possible usefulness of organizing a formal association that would directly address their special interests. At the end of the course, each of these principals returned to their home districts and began raising support for the plan, so that by the convocation of the 1921 annual convention of the NEA, there were fifty-one willing recruits. They drafted a mission statement, bylaws, and a constitution, thus forming the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and were duly recognized by the NEA as an independent department of that organization.

The publication division of the NAESP was quickly launched, beginning with a bulletin that laid out the organization's goals and principles, followed by the publication of a yearbook, which contained articles on professional responsibility and leadership. The close association of the NAESP with the NEA continued over the next several decades.

By 1931 the NAESP had grown so much that it was granted permanent headquarters within the NEA offices in Washington, D.C. With this improvement in facilities, the publications division enjoyed a period of expansion as well, and the National Elementary Principal was launched. This publication, initially a newsletter, would eventually become the Principal magazine. The NAESP also began to move beyond its early focus on defining the administrator's role and status to include a consideration of related issues, such as community relations, controversies in educational standards and approaches, and other topics. Toward the end of the 1930s the organization began to offer additional services, notably a two-week summer workshop dedicated to enhancing professional skills.

In the 1950s the NAESP had grown substantially, and it was finally able to assert its independence from the NEA. Although it has always maintained a close professional cooperation with that organization, independence was important for it allowed the organization to devote all of its time exclusively to furthering the interests of its members. The organization continued to press for professional recognition, to advocate improvements in salary and working conditions, and to provide resources and support services to its members. In the 1980s and 1990s the NAESP focused on outreach to corporate, public, and private organizations to further the association's goals. The national organization remained housed within the NEA headquarters, however, until the 1990s, when it finally established its own independent offices.

See also: Principal, School.

internet resource

National Association of Elementary School Principals. 2002. <>.

William L. Pharis

Revised by

Nancy E. Gratton

About this article

School principals

All Sources -
Updated Aug 08 2016 About content Print Topic


School principals