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Education Leadership: How Districts Can Grow and Support a Pipeline of Highly Effective Leaders

This presentation was used as the basis for a meeting with an advisory committee of the U.S. Department of Education. It summarizes key insights from a decade of Wallace’s work on how to strengthen education leadership.
October 12, 2012


  • The briefing began with an introduction to the Wallace Foundation and its commitment to evidence-based research. 
  • It was then posited that effective principals are key to shaping the academic success of students, creating a hospitable working climate for teachers, cultivating overall leadership, and improving instruction. State and district investments in principal and other school leadership improvement was shown to have a positive effect on students while remaining a cost-effective investment.
  • After that, the discussion shifted to the role of states and districts. States could help strengthen leader preparation by setting standards for accredited preparation programs, defining requirements for certifications and funding, and offering financial support for highly qualified candidates. Districts could help clearly define standards for principals and accountability measurements, placing effective principals in schools with the highest needs, employing leader evaluation systems, and designing pipeline initiatives.
  • The briefing concluded with a breakdown of Wallace's Principal Pipeline Initiative and its four components. Effective principal pipelines saw states' and districts' development of clear leader standards for principals based on research, as well as high quality leader preparation programs, smarter leadership hires, and using evaluation and professional development to better support and foster school leadership.
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