This synthesis publication draws from four reports written in August and September 2015 by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, The School Superintendents Association, the American Institutes for Research, and the University Council for Educational Administration at the request of The Wallace Foundation. These four reports informed a Wallace initiative aimed at improving university principal preparation.
School districts are largely dissatisfied with university principal preparation programs. That’s one finding in this publication, which examines the state of university principal preparation programs and how to improve them. The good news: many universities agree that programs need improvement and seem open to change.
Nearly all district superintendents and universities surveyed agree that principals are “very/extremely important” to improving student learning. Despite that:
This publication synthesizes four reports commissioned by The Wallace Foundation to examine university principal preparation. The authors identify the following major themes in these reports:
Superintendents rated “require universities to collaborate with districts” as the most valuable of 10 possible policy actions the state might take to improve principal preparation.
Courses need to be updated to reflect contemporary practice, both superintendents and university respondents said. They said that principals especially needed more clinical experiences and mentorship.
University respondents noted other obstacles to change. These included lack of support from university officials and faculty members who don’t see the need for change.
Both superintendents and university respondents were critical of licensure requirements. They thought policymakers understood too little about education or principal preparation. Superintendents thought they should be included in policy decisions about principal licensure.
Two of the reports compared state policies to best practice for principal preparation. They identified “high-leverage” actions states could take to strengthen principal licensure and university preparation. States largely fell short on implementing best practices, researchers found. For example, 46 states require principals to have two years of teaching experience but only four require an “effective” rating of teaching quality.