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Principals and other school leaders: The evidence base for their critical role in ESSA

Will Miller, president of The Wallace Foundation, gave three educational briefings on “Principals and other school leaders: The evidence base for their critical role in ESSA – with state examples” using this PowerPoint on May 10, 2017. The briefings were given to: U.S. Senator (Washington-D) Patty Murray and her staff; members of the staff of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (Tennessee-R); and Michael Gentile, majority clerk of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
May 16, 2017


  • The briefing began with an introduction to the Wallace Foundation and its commitment to evidence-based research. 
  • The briefing then explained the ways in which effective principals better their schools, including their critical role in turning around challenging schools, their impact on the success of school improvement efforts, and their role in retaining and supporting high-quality teachers.
  • The briefing further described investing in improving school leadership as a cost-efficient strategy. Evidence from 30+ studies on school leaders showed that they met ESSA evidence requirements for permissive use of federal funds.
  • At the time of the briefing, at least 25 states featured school leadership in their draft ESSA plans, the contents of which included statewide leadership academies, leadership mentoring, principal supervisors, and principal pipelines.
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