Through collaboration with school districts, state organizations and others, universities can defy expectations about institutional resistance to change and bring about meaningful principal preparation program redesign. That’s the key message from a multi-part, seven-year RAND Corporation study of The Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative. The initiative ran from 2016 to 2021 and involved seven universities working in teams with districts that hire their preparation program graduates, state agencies and other partners. The study, with findings presented in a series of full reports and briefs, found that the seven teams, each in a different state from California to Connecticut, were able to improve the coherence of the university programs by:

  • Harmonizing the curriculum with national standards and state requirements for principals
  • Ensuring that changes to instruction were informed by district needs and the real work of principals
  • Emphasizing practical experiences and job-related activities that reinforced coursework and providing stronger coaching and other supports
  • Strengthening the use of cohorts, which enabled enrollees to develop a network for peer support during the program and after

Three reports present findings about: 1) the initiative overall; 2) state actions to lift program quality; and 3) the initial, crucial steps universities and their partners took on their path to improved principal preparation. Briefs, meanwhile, summarize key points from the full, final evaluation report for those interested in the effort as a whole, as well as those interested in topics pertaining to universities, school districts and state policymakers. ​

 Supplementary Materials