Preparing a Pipeline of Effective Principals

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Preparing a Pipeline of Effective PrincipalsLeadership Matters. Nearly 60 percent of a school’s influence on student achievement is attributable to teacher and principal effectiveness, and principals alone account for as much as 25 percent. Research also shows that the effects of leadership are considerably greater in the most struggling schools. Virtually no documented instances occur where troubled schools are turned around if they do not have a talented leader.

High-quality principals recruit, develop and retain talented teachers and remove less effective ones. Teachers routinely cite effective leadership as one of the most important factors in deciding whether they will remain at or leave a school. The combination of effective teaching and capable leadership—not one or the other—will improve student performance. Investments in school leadership can be a cost-effective means of improving student learning at scale because principals are uniquely positioned to ensure that excellent teaching and learning spread beyond single classrooms.

What Do Effective Principals Do?

  • Shape a vision of academic success for all students,one based on high standards.
  • Create a climate hospitable to education.
  • Cultivate leadership in others so teachers and other adults assume their part in realizing the school vision.
  • Improve instruction to enable teachers to teach at their best and students to learn at their utmost.
  • Manage people, data and processes to foster school improvement.

The first section of this report offers guidance for approaching the issues of preparing a pipeline of effective principals. It provides background information, discusses the state legislative role, provides information about what legislators need to know and discusses current research. The second section features six policy areas states are using to improve principal preparation: statewide leadership standards; recruitment, selection and retention; principal preparation program design and accreditation; licensure and certification; evaluation; and mentoring and ongoing professional development. The last section features specific actions state legislators can take to improve principal preparation, concluding remarks, notes and web resources.