This groundbreaking report documents the qualities of eight exemplary principal training programs and concludes, in the words of lead author and Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond, that “high-performing principals are not just born, but can be made.” Commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, the report comes in response to longstanding criticism of how future principals are trained and then developed on the job.
The report looks at both principal preparation and in-service training. Compared with a national sample of recent principal program graduates, graduates of exemplary programs had a number advantages, including feeling better prepared to take on such essential school leadership tasks as developing a vision for the school and engaging parents, according to the research. They were also much more likely to be employed as principals and more interested in remaining in their jobs despite serving more challenging schools. Among other positive outcomes, they also spent more time on instructional leadership. Findings were similarly positive for those enrolled in exemplary on-the-job principal training.
Researchers examined the characteristics that contributed to the success of these exemplary programs, including the nature of their curricula and internships as well as state and district policies and financial resources supporting these efforts. Drawing on these findings, researchers provide practical advice on how to make high-quality principal preparation the rule rather than the exception.