Effective School Principals: A Lever for School Improvement


Leadership Matters—A Lot

Effective school principals are key to improving schools and raising student achievement. In fact, principals are second only to teachers among school-related influences on student learning. Nearly 60 percent of a student’s performance is attributable to teacher and principal effectiveness, with principals accounting for about a quarter of a school’s total impact on a student’s academic success. There are virtually no documented instances of troubled schools being turned around without intervention by an outstanding principal.

Good Investment

While teachers have a direct impact on students in their classroom, principal  affect all students in the school. A good principal is the single most important determinant of whether a school can attract and keep the high-quality teachers necessary to provide students consecutive years of excellent teaching. The combination of effective teachers and strong 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 ensure that excellent teaching and learning spread beyond single classrooms. They also play a critical role in implementing school-wide reform efforts.

State Policy Approaches

  • Strengthen a Principal's Career Continuum Through Key Policy Levers
    • Principal Standards
    • Design and Approval of Preparation Programs
    • Licensure
    • Mentoring and Induction and Professional Development
    • Evaluation and Ongoing Support
  • Create a State Commission or Task Force
  • Develop and Support Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems
  • Improve Working Conditions
  • Align All Components
  • Direct Resources

Additional Resources