Rethinking Leadership: The Changing Role of Principal Supervisors

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Rethinking Leadership: The Changing Role of Principal Supervisors

In the fall of 2012, the Council of the Great City Schools launched a two-part study of the ways principal supervisors are selected, supported, and evaluated in major school districts across the country. The first part involved a survey administered to district staff serving as principal supervisors in the fall of 2012. The second part of the study involved site visits to the six districts participating in The Wallace Foundation's Principal Pipeline Initiative-Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Denver Public Schools, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Hillsborough County Public Schools, the New York City Department of Education, and Prince George's County Public Schools.

This report provides a summary of findings from both the survey and site visits. Part I presents a description of the organizational structure and general features of the various principal supervisory systems, including the roles, selection, deployment, staffing, professional development, and evaluation of principal supervisors, as well as the preparation, selection, support, and evaluation of principals.

Part II provides recommendations for building more effective principal supervisory systems. Based on the survey results and observations from the site visits, these recommendations identify those structures and practices that are most likely to result in stronger school leaders and higher student achievement.

Council of the Great City Schools 

The report concludes that districts should:

  1. Define and clearly communicate throughout the organization the role and required competencies of principal supervisors.
  2. Narrow principal supervisor responsibilities and spans of control.
  3. Strategically select and deploy principal supervisors, matching skills and expertise to the needs of schools.
  4. Provide principal supervisors with the professional development and training they need to assume new instructional leadership roles.
  5. Establish information-sharing policies or procedures to ensure clear lines of communication and collaboration between principal supervisors and central office staff.
  6. Provide early and sustained support to new principals in the form of coaches.
  7. Hold principals-and principal supervisors-accountable for the progress of their schools, and ensure alignment in the processes and measures used to assess teacher, principal, and principal supervisor performance.
  8. Provide clear, timely, and actionable evaluation data to principals.
  9. Commit district resources and engage external partners in the process of developing future school and district leaders.

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