This brief, first published in 2009 and updated in March 2011, highlights what The Wallace Foundation has learned about improving academics and enrichment for children both during and outside of the regular school day. Based on research and expert insights, the brief offers policymakers practical guidance on improving low-performing schools, developing school leaders, creating more learning time and forging closer collaboration between school districts and state education leaders.

A central finding is the importance of school leadership in turning around failing schools. Good principals are able to attract, develop and keep excellent teachers. They are also able to create structures and align resources to accomplish goals. At the same time, they know how to share leadership with others. The brief gives examples of how to better prepare principals to accomplish these tasks, including ways states and districts can influence the quality of principal training and accreditation. It also lists strategies districts can use to attract, support and retain principals able to revive failing schools. Schools can't do the work alone, however. The brief offers examples of how cities and school districts can create more learning opportunities for students afterschool and during the summer months.

 Points of Interest

  • The inability of many disadvantaged schools to attract excellent principals is rooted in poor working conditions and low pay, not candidate shortages. Districts need to improve salaries and working conditions to attract talented leaders.
    Low pay, poor working conditions stymie #districts in attracting great #principals to high-needs #schools. #education
  • Investing in good principals is a cost-effective way to improve teaching and student learning. High-quality principals can motivate the faculty to improve learning and organize “professional communities” for teachers to work together on improving instruction.
    Investing in effective #principals: a cost-effective strategy to improve #teaching & student learning. #education
  • School districts can exercise “consumer power" to influence the training of the school leaders they will eventually hire. One way is to develop leadership standards and then select only graduates of programs whose training is designed to meet those standards, as some districts have already done.
    #School districts can use influence as employers of #principal prep program graduates to improve programs. #education