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Report Series: Early Themes in Education Leadership
Part 2 of 14

Preparing a New Breed of School Principals

It's Time for Action

This report identifies 12 characteristics of effective principals and suggests ways to cultivate high-quality leaders.
April 2001
Three teachers in discussion in a classroom.
  • Author(s)
  • Gene Bottoms and Kathy O'Neill
  • Publisher(s)
  • Southern Regional Education Board
Page Count 32 pages


State legislation, higher school standards and greater accountability require a “new breed” of more-effective school leaders. But recruitment, principal preparation and professional development programs for school leaders are out of sync with the expectations, according to this report. It identifies 12 traits of successful leaders, such as their abilities to create a focused mission to boost student achievement, set high expectations for all students to learn more-complex material, and use data to improve classroom practices and student performance.

The report also discusses what states, districts and universities can do to support school principals. States, for example, can tap potential leaders in local school districts with demonstrated knowledge of curriculum and instruction, while universities can focus on preparing leaders able to improve teaching and student learning, which are the core functions of the school, and create alternative group-preparation programs for people who are already employed in a school leadership role.

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