The NCSL Blog


By Ashley Idrees

How does a university prepare a person to lead a school when the unexpected is always expected?

Principal working with childrenUniversities are often criticized in their efforts to prepare future school leaders.

They often are blamed for the high turnover rates of principals, teachers and staff, and for failing schools. Principals must be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to lead teachers, students, and staff and to turn around school performance.

To meet this challenge, the Wallace Foundation, in partnership with the Rand Corporation, began the Launching a Redesign of University Principal Preparation Programs. In July 2016, seven universities, working with school districts and other partners, began their effort to change the preparation of future school leaders—a difficult task to say the least.

A partnership between four entities was required:

  • University principal training programs.
  • Surrounding school districts that hired its graduates.
  • An exemplary principal training program.
  • State education offices responsible for higher education.

Within the first year of implementation, universities and districts that were able to effectively collaborate created effective programs that responded to the needs of leadership within schools.

Through agreed-upon standards and logic models, the seven universities began redesigning their principal preparation programs. Some universities and districts focused on collaboration between the two entities while others centralized upon culture building, special education and purposeful internships.

As with all change, challenges presented themselves, and all four entities reacted in very specific ways ranging from university policies, time constraints and turnover.

To learn more about the first year of the redesigned principal preparation programs, and how each university has prevailed thus far, read the full report.

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.