School Leadership Matters. School principals play a critical role in school improvement and students’ academic success. While teachers have a direct impact on students in their classroom, a principal affects all students in a given school. Principals greatly influence teacher quality by recruiting, developing and retaining excellent teachers—while also removing less effective ones—and by ensuring all students have a great teacher year after year. Effective teachers and principals are the two most important school-related factors that contriute to what students learn at school.
Student-Principal Achievement Link. Research demonstrates that nearly 60 percent of a school’s influence on student achievement is attributable to teacher and principal effectiveness, with principals alone accounting for about a quarter of the total school effects. The effects of good principals are most significant in schools with the greatest need. Moreover, virtually no documented instances occur where troubled schools are turned around without a talented principal.
A Good Investment. The combination of effective teaching and capable principals—not one or the other—will improve student academic performance. Targeted investments in good principals can be a particularly cost-effective way to improve teaching and learning because principals are uniquely positioned in their schools to ensure that excellent teaching and learning spread beyond single classrooms.