Finding good principals should be a matter of policy and practice, not chance, according to this report by the Southern Regional Education Board. It recommends six strategies for states and school districts that want to better prepare principals to raise achievement in high-needs schools:
- Single out promising candidates with knowledge of curriculum and instruction, a passion for raising student achievement and a talent for leadership
- Redesign principal preparation programs to focus on instructional leadership rather than management
- Make on-the-ground experience a core aspect of principal preparation
- Create a principal licensure system that requires proven performance to move from initial to professional certification
- Move accomplished teachers into school leadership positions by creating alternative education programs allowing them to learn on the job and bypass traditional university administrator preparation
- Create state leadership academies that would offer training in effective practices for whole school leadership teams, especially those at struggling "middle-performing" schools that are often overlooked for interventions
The report describes how each of these strategies can address the shortcomings of systems currently in place and ways in which states, school districts and universities might carry them out. It also describes promising practices already under way around the country.