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Knowledge From the Field

Becoming a Leader: Preparing School Principals for Today's Schools

Published: June 2008

Publisher(s): Wallace Foundation

Funder(s): Wallace Foundation

View Report (20 pages; 2.19MB; PDF)

Area of Focus: Teacher Quality

Abstract: The importance of effective school leadership and the accompanying need to provide principals with more appropriate training to meet today’s needs are getting long-overdue attention.

Teachers have the most immediate in-school effect on student success, but there is growing agreement that it is the principal who is best positioned to ensure that teaching and learning are as good as they can be throughout entire schools, especially those with the highest needs. This report describes efforts by states and districts to improve training for principals, identifies key elements of success based on new research, and offers lessons for effective preparation, including more focused training and high-quality mentoring.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

= Successful principal training programs are different from common practices in that they are more selective, more focused on improvement of instruction, more closely tied to the needs of districts, and provide more relevant internships with hands-on leadership experience.

= Leadership practices point to the need for the principal to know how to share jurisdiction and allow leadership to flourish throughout their school.

= The skills that leaders display, or fail to, may be as important in attracting and retaining good teachers to a school or a district as salaries.

= Leadership training should include high-quality mentoring for new principals and professional development for all principals to promote career-long growth in line with the evolving needs of schools and districts.

= Addressing the leadership challenge also requires remedying the difficult working conditions that can undermine even the best-trained principals.

Geographic Focus : National

Subjects/Keywords : Teacher quality; principals; accountability; educational standards; leadership; reform; community/parent involvement; achievement gap

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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