This report describes early actions by six large school districts to improve two aspects of developing high-quality school leadership. The first was to upgrade pre-service principal preparation programs by strengthening district-program partnerships. The second was to bolster district supports for novice principals.
The report is the second in a series about Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Initiative. This multi-year effort supported the districts as they sought to build a large corps of effective principals.
In preservice training, the partnerships helped introduce new application practices. One was to invite people to apply to a program based on district nominations. Another was to use formal rating methods. A third was to ask applicants to make sense of a scenario and perform tasks to address the issues it posed.
In on-the-job support, all six districts took steps including providing novice principals with formal coaching or mentoring. This might include weekly 90-minute, one-on-one sessions with trained, high-performing sitting principals.
School districts and principal preparation program agreed that the following topics were important for aspiring principals to learn about:
A survey of novice principals and assistant principals in the districts gave an idea of careers path to school leader positions. Among the findings: Some 86 percent of respondents had worked as an assistant principal for a median of five years.
The initiative sought to build four key components of principal development and make sure they reinforce each other: