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Knowledge From the Field

Preparing School Leaders for a Changing World: Lessons From Exemplary Leadership Development Programs

Published: April 2007

Publisher(s): Stanford Educational Leadership Institute

Author(s): Darling-Hammond, Linda; Michelle LaPointe; Debra Meyerson; Margaret Orr

Funder(s): Wallace Foundation

View Report (259 pages; 3.37MB; PDF)

Area of Focus: Teacher Quality

Abstract: With a national focus on raising achievement for all students, there has been growing attention to the pivotal role of school leaders in improving the quality of education. This recognition, coupled with a growing shortage of high-quality leaders in American schools has heightened interest in leadership development as a major reform strategy. Based on a nationwide study of principal development programs and the policies that influence them, the report addresses several key questions, such as how to develop principals who can successfully transform schools and what is the current status of leadership development. It also presents case studies of eight programs designed to enhance the leadership training and ongoing professional development of school principals and offers practical guidelines for district and state policymakers to help ensure principals' preparedness.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

+ Using multiple metrics, the principals who participated in the preparation and professional development programs selected as exemplary reported being significantly better prepared, holding more positive attitudes, and engaging in more effective practices on average than did the principals in their relevant comparison groups.

+ Although the most effective programs tend to be the costliest, leaders in these high-intensity programs felt better prepared and demonstrated stronger leadership practices on the job. Their teachers also felt better supported and better led, reporting more collegial work on instruction and more focus on improvement in schools.

= Dedicated program champions and leaders, the political will and capacity to build university-district partnerships, and significant financial support were three characteristics that were present in the exemplary programs.

= Proactive outreach to desired candidates coupled with program funding, particularly the ability to pay candidates’ salaries during their training period, results in a stronger pool of candidates.

= The design, quality, and impact of principal preparation and development programs can be significantly shaped by purposeful policy agendas at the state and district levels, particularly when these take a comprehensive approach.

= State and district financing policies are critical. At the most fundamental level, what programs are able to accomplish, whom they are able to recruit, and the choices that enter into program designs depend profoundly on the sources, amounts, and stipulations of funding.

Geographic Focus : National

Subjects/Keywords : Teacher quality; leadership programs; government funding; principal training

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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