Strong Leaders, Strong Schools: 2008 State Laws

Report cover:  Strong Leaders Strong SchoolsIn today’s complex school environment—where resources are limited and pressure to turn around low-performing schools is high—strengthening ef­fective school leaders is key to improving student achievement and meeting high standards. A strong body of evidence supports the notion that teachers have the most immediate in-school effect on student success. But there is growing agreement that sug­gests it is the principal who is best positioned to en­sure that teaching and learning are strong through­out the school. Landmark research commissioned by The Wallace Foundation in 2004 indicates that leadership is second only to classroom instruction among all school-related factors that contribute to student learning, especially in high-needs schools. The report also found there are virtually no docu­mented instances of troubled schools being turned around without a talented principal. 

As states face historic budget gaps, the need to in­vest in cost-effective ways to improve teaching and learning is crucial. More than ever, states need to develop and implement comprehensive strategies to ensure today’s leaders have the skills, knowledge and support required to guide the transformation of schools and raise achievement for all students. 

Lawmakers have responded by crafting legislation and policy to recruit, prepare and support high-quality school leaders. At least 22 states enacted 39 laws to support school leader initiatives during the 2008 legislative sessions. 

The laws address:
  • Roles, responsibilities and authority;
  • Preparation and leadership academies;
  • Licensure and certification;
  • Mentoring and induction;
  • Professional development;
  • Assessing leader effectiveness;
  • Compensation and incentives; and
  • Governance structure issues

This publication is the second annual report featur­ing legislative efforts to recruit, prepare and sup­port effective school leaders. It provides a snapshot of legislative activity and is not intended to focus on all areas of state-level activity, including the role of the governor, chief or school boards. New this year are examples of state fiscal appropriations to provide a more complete picture of how states are strengthening school leader initiatives. View Report. (20 pages)