Recent research demonstrates the important difference that building comprehensive and aligned principal pipelines can make in districts and schools. Implementation studies have analyzed in depth how school districts can strategically put in place policies, processes and infrastructures to strengthen school leadership. Research on achievement effects has shown that schools in these districts with newly placed principals outperformed comparison schools to a statistically significant and meaningful extent over three years.
This guide offers help for districts looking to create and operate a principal pipeline, based on the research evidence.
Many districts have already put in place key pipeline elements and want to know where there is room for improvement. The guide can help districts reflect on their policies, processes and infrastructures related to school leadership and begin planning for improvement. It provides a set of evidence-based indicators of pipeline functioning and a framework for applying the indicators through self-study.
Districts can rate their own status on each indicator as a step in their decision making and planning. Although some may think of a principal pipeline as a simple sequence of recruitment and hiring, effective districts work in seven interrelated domains to create and strengthen a pipeline in which each domain supports the others:
- Leader standards
- High-quality pre-service principal preparation
- Selective hiring and placement of principals
- On-the-job evaluation and support
- Principal supervisors
- Leader tracking systems
- Systems and capacity to support and sustain a principal pipeline
For each domain, this guide identifies indicators of implementation. For each indicator in the domain, it suggests discussion questions and local evidence for districts to consider as they rate the current state of their principal pipeline along a developmental progression. Tables allow districts, for their internal use, to note the results of their self-study and make plans for principal pipeline development.