In 2011, The Wallace Foundation launched the Principal Pipeline Initiative, an effort to help six urban school districts improve their “principal pipelines,” systems to train, hire, and evaluate and support school principals. This five-report series examines the steps the districts took to put strong pipelines in place, the challenges they faced and lessons other districts could draw from their work. The last report in the series, which looks over the sweep of the initiative, concludes that the districts were able to carry out the kinds of policies and practices called for by the effort “to a striking extent.”

A cost study, looking at both expenditures and resources the districts have drawn on to build their pipelines, is expected to be published by the RAND Corporation in 2017. An examination of the pipelines’ impact on schools and students, also by RAND, is scheduled for the following year.

 Points of Interest

  • Figuring out what their principals need to know and do, and then committing this to writing, was of singular importance to districts trying to build a large corps of effective school leaders.
    Spelling out what #principals must know/do had surprising power for districts seeking to boost leader effectiveness.
  • After six districts introduced more rigorous practices for hiring school principals, their novice principals began reporting a better fit with their schools than their predecessors had.
    After 6 districts strengthened #principal hiring practices, new principals reported a better fit w/ their schools.
  • School districts are in the earliest stages of figuring out how to recast the assistant principal’s job so it can serve as both a proving ground and an apprenticeship for the top slot.
    A key district task: identifying assistant #principals who are good bets for the top slot and cultivating them.