School districts profoundly shape the destinies of their principals: how they are trained, hired, mentored, evaluated and developed on the job. Yet until recently, many educators and policymakers overlooked the vital role districts can play to help principals shoulder their central responsibility: improving teaching and learning.

Armed with new evidence about the importance of school leadership and how it can best be developed, a growing number of large districts are seeking to cultivate first-rate principals for all of their schools. Doing so requires two big commitments:

  1. Build a large corps of well-qualified candidates for the principalship:
    • Create job descriptions that clearly spell out the knowledge principals need and what responsibilities are key in order to drive better instruction.
    • Improve pre-service principal training.
    • Establish selective hiring procedures that identify the most promising future leaders and match them to the right schools.
    • Ensure that hard-to-staff schools get top-quality leaders.
  2. Support school leaders on the ground:
    • Develop fair and reliable performance evaluations that hold principals accountable for student progress but also inform their ongoing training.
    • Offer mentoring for novice principals and professional development for all principals, so school leaders can continually improve throughout their careers.
    • Provide school leaders with timely, useful data and training on how to use it effectively.
    • Enable principals to devote sufficient time to improving instruction as well as to making the best use of that time.
    • Plan for orderly turnover and leadership succession.

 Points of Interest

  • Drawing up a set of standards is the necessary prelude to building a corps of able principals. Standards spell out what leaders need to know and do, while providing a clear description of the principal’s job.
    Clear standards about what #principals must know and do are necessary to build a corps of able #school leaders. #education
  • School systems need to take a stronger hand in ensuring aspiring school leaders are properly trained to meet performance standards.
    #School districts should ensure aspiring #principals are properly trained to meet performance standards. #education
  • Districts should invest in early mentoring and continuing professional development for principals to ensure effective school leadership and resist skills growing stale.
    Early #mentoring + continuing professional development for #principals can bolster #school leadership. #education
  • Districts need to make sure principals have the time to focus on instruction and the skills to use that time to help teachers improve.
    #School districts should ensure #principals have time to focus on instruction and skills to help teachers improve. #education
  • Districts should plan ahead for orderly leadership succession and turnover by identifying prospective principals early in their careers, mentoring and supporting novice principals, and helping to build strong leadership teams in schools.
    Districts play key role in reducing #principal turnover & ensuring smooth transitions, helping #schools stay strong. #education