The NCSL Blog


By Ashley Idrees

The role of  the principal is at the forefront of school transformation.

Wallace Foundation report coverResearch shows school leadership is second only to teaching among school-related factors that affect student outcomes.

Leadership is vital to the success of a school. A lack of strong school leaders makes it difficult to recruit and retain effective teachers, and leads to many teachers leaving the profession. 

Since 201l, The Wallace Foundation has invested in and works closely with six large urban school districts throughout the nation to build and implement a robust principal pipeline.

Key components of this research-based principal pipeline have not only supported current leaders but also recruited leaders who have achieved substantial success. Six urban districts participate in this initiative: Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.; Denver; Gwinnett County, Ga.; Hillsborough County, Fla.; New York City; and Prince George’s County, Md.

The Wallace Foundation recently released a six-episode podcast series in which principals, district and state leaders, and university officials share their experiences, trials and successes in the implementation of principal pipelines. The podcasts provide detailed experiences of the six districts during its implementation.

In addition to the valuable information for current and aspiring leaders, the series also discusses policy options of interest to state legislators. Below are state policy options listed with the corresponding podcast that culminates policy into action:

  • Recruitment and retention of school leaders: Episode 1.
  • Adopting strong job standards and improving hiring practices: Episode 2.
  • University partnerships with school districts: Episode 3.
  • Managing processes through mentorship: Episode 4.
  • State implementation of the principal pipeline: Episode 5.
  • Assistant principals and principal supervisors: Episode 6.

The range of topics included within this podcast series detail the complexity associated with school leadership. Through purposeful design, collaboration, and support, school districts are now able to recruit, retain and fully support principal leaders with research-based strategies that have been proven to work.

Ashley Idrees is a policy specialist in NCSL's Education program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.