Mentoring principals. Seeing to it that they get good professional development. Building their capacity to develop teachers. Providing such on-the-job supports is the most common school leadership priority among two dozen states involved in an effort to help boost school leadership, according to a survey of the group.

In addition, these states overwhelmingly agreed that incorporating their principal-focused work into federally funded school improvement plans is another priority for them.

The initiative, a Council of Chief State School Officers project funded by The Wallace Foundation, assists teams from the participating states to draw up and carry out “action plans” to promote principal effectiveness. The Policy Studies Associates research organization surveyed the group in spring 2017 and conducted phone interviews with participants as well.

The survey is not representative of U.S. states as a whole but offers a useful look at the priorities, concerns and activities of a large number of states from all major regions of the nation.

Respondents were asked, among other things, about five categories of activity to promote effective school leadership and whether each was a “current or emerging priority” and/or an area where they had made past progress. The categories were: principal support/professional development, supervisors, preparation, evaluation and standards. Most often, respondents named topics within principal support/professional development as priorities. The single most commonly cited topic in that category was development of mentoring for principals—named as a priority by 77 percent of respondents.

The survey also asked if “integrating principal support or evaluation” into school improvement plans for funding under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act was a current priority. Some 91 percent of respondents said it was.

Among the other findings: improving principal supervisor practices for developing principals was another major priority (75 percent), and large majorities of respondents say development of both principal standards and principal evaluation systems are areas of “past progress or accomplishment,” suggesting that many states have undertaken this work.  

The report provides one-page snapshots of the school leadership work underway in most of the states involved in the effort.

 Points of Interest

  • What do states in an effort to boost school leadership have in common? Most list improving on-the-job support of principals as a priority, according to a survey.
    What states in school leadership effort have in common—saying on-the-job principal support is a priority.
  • One area of focus for improving school leadership outstrips others for a group of states taking part in an effort to boost school leadership: Mentoring of principals.
    The school leadership improvement area that outstrips others for states taking part in effort to boost school leadership? Mentoring of principals.

 Supplementary Materials