Preparing School Leaders for a Changing World: Lessons from Exemplary Leadership Development Programs

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Preparing School Leaders for a Changing World: Lessons from Exemplary Leadership Development Programs

Much of the literature about leadership development programs describes program features believed to be productive, but evidence about what graduates of these programs can actually do as a result of their training has been sparse. We designed our research around the view that exemplary programs should offer visible evidence that they affect principals' knowledge, skills, and practices, as well as success in their challenging jobs. Comments about the abilities of graduates of the programs we studied - made by employers, colleagues, and the graduates themselves - suggested that something distinctive was going on in these programs:

[ELDA graduates] take hold in a way that I don't have the same confidence others could. They can articulate a belief and build a rationale and justification that encourages others to believe the same thing and hold high expectations for all kids. I have confidence with the ELDA graduates that the belief doesn't become words that float away in the air - that they put actions behind it, convincing others not by edict, but by actual leadership...looking at practice, figuring out what to do about it, and not settling for practice that doesn't produce a good result for kids.

- San Diego Unified School District principal supervisor

As a superintendent, I hired a couple of principals out of [the UCAPP program], and these people would come to the table when we were at administrative council meetings and they knew how to disaggregate data, they knew how to use data, they knew about school improvement plans, they knew about how you effectively evaluate staff; I mean, they came in and they were ready to go to work!

- Local superintendent in Connecticut

I could always tell when I was doing my interviews who had gone to Principals for Tomorrow and who hadn't. I could tell based on the questions: who knew [how to lead] and who didn't.

- Jefferson County Public Schools human resources manager

Indeed, we found that graduates of these innovative programs report higher quality program practices, feel better prepared, feel better about the principalship as a job and a vocation, and enact more effective leadership practices than principals with more conventional preparation.

1. Exemplary Pre - and In-Service Programs share many Common Features

Although we selected programs as exemplars of different models operating in distinctive contexts, we found common elements among them that confirm much prior research on productive design features. We also uncovered some important program components and facilitating conditions, especially the importance of recruitment and financial supports, that have received less attention in the literature.

Pre-Service Programs

All of the pre-service programs in our sample shared the following elements:

  • A comprehensive and coherent curriculum aligned with state and professional standards, in particular the ISSLC standards, which emphasize instructional leadership;
  • A philosophy and curriculum emphasizing instructional leadership and school improvement;
  • Active, student-centered instruction that integrates theory and practice and stimulates reflection. Instructional strategies include problem-based learning; action research; field-based projects; journal writing; and portfolios that feature substantial use of feedback and assessment by peers, faculty, and the candidates themselves;
  • Faculty who are knowledgeable in their subject areas, including both university professors and practitioners experienced in school administration;
  • Social and professional support in the form of a cohort structure and formalized mentoring and advising by expert principals;
  • Vigorous, targeted recruitment and selection to seek out expert teachers with leadership potential; and
  • Well-designed and supervised administrative internships that allow candidates to engage in leadership responsibilities for substantial periods of time under the tutelage of expert veterans.

Some of these features had spillover effects beyond the program itself. For example, cohort groups became the basis of a peer network that principals relied on for social and professional support throughout their careers. Strong relationships with mentors and advisors also often continued to provide support to principals after they had left the program. As one of the principals we followed explained:

    I call a lot on my cohort friends from Bank Street... We bounce frustrations as well as successes and questions off each other. And I'll have colleagues call me back [with] a question when they need an answer to something. Hopefully, we can provide it. When there are new principals, I try to reach out with that sense of my responsibility.

A Delta State graduate described how the cohort provides a broad network of support:

    Anytime I need any one of them or they need me, I can pick up to the phone or e-mail... That is great. I know that there are different strengths that these people have. You go back and you draw from them and say, "I know this. She knows this person, she knows that person."

And a Connecticut superintendent suggested that the UCAPP program's cohort system prepares principals for the collaborative necessities of today's schools:

    I think one of the real strengths is the cohort model that they use. It's amazing how these people function as a team and help one another... And I think that's important, because if you're going to be an educational leader in this day and age, you can't function in isolation. The only way you can operate and do a good job is to function as a team.

Other features had strong enabling influences on what the programs could accomplish. In particular, the programs specifically reached out to candidates who had backgrounds that would allow them to become strong instructional leaders. Rather than waiting to see who would enroll, the programs worked with districts to recruit candidates who were known as excellent teachers with strong leadership potential and who reflected the local population of teachers and students. Thus, in the aggregate, graduates were significantly more likely than members of the comparison group to be female and members of a racial/ ethnic minority group. They were also much more likely to have strong and relevant teaching experience, having frequently served as coaches for other teachers, department chairs, and team leaders. These candidates were committed to their communities and capable of becoming instructionally grounded, transformative leaders.

Rather than waiting to see who would enroll, the programs worked with districts to recruit candidates who were known as excellent teachers with strong leadership potential and who reflected the local population of teachers and students.

Finally, the nature of the internship - and its connection to coursework proved critically important to helping principals learn to implement sophisticated practices. All of the programs we studied worked hard to develop productive internship experiences and to integrate internships with coursework. Two of the programs we studied - Delta State and San Diego's ELDA - offered full-year, paid administrative internships with expert principals, financed by the State of Mississippi in one case and by San Diego city schools through a foundation grant in the other. These represent the most highly developed internships we studied, and the quality of the experience was clearly reflected in graduates' program evaluations and practices. While the graduates of all the programs reported relatively strong internships, those who had full-time, funded learning experiences rated their programs most positively.

In-Service Professional Development

We found that the exemplary in-service programs offered a well connected set of learning opportunities that were informed by a coherent view of teaching and learning, grounded in both theory and practice. Rather than offering an array of disparate and ever-changing, oneshot workshops, these programs had a clear model of instructional leadership. They organized continuous learning aimed at the specific professional practices the model requires. These practices typically included developing shared, school-wide goals and direction, observing and providing feedback to teachers, planning professional development and other learning experiences for teachers, using data to guide school improvement, and managing a change process. In addition to offering extensive, high-quality learning opportunities focused on curriculum and instruction, the programs typically offered supports in the form of mentoring, participation in principals' networks and study groups, collegial school visits, and peer coaching. Three features characterized districts' efforts:

  • A learning continuum that operated systematically from pre-service preparation through induction and continuing careers and included using mature and retired principals as mentors;
  • Leadership learning that is organized around a model of leadership and grounded in practice, including analyses of classroom practice, supervision, and professional development using on-the-job observations connected to readings and discussions; and
  • Collegial learning networks, such as principals' networks, study groups, and mentoring or peer coaching, that offer communities of practice and support for problem-solving.

These features were mutually reinforcing. For example, a San Diego principal described opportunities to develop grounded practice through the district-organized principal network:

    We've gone to each other's campuses; we've had wonderful discussions; we've read books together. We've watched each other's staff development tapes and talked about what we could do better, what kinds of things we think would help the staff move.

A New York City Region 1 principal described how the district-operated principals' network provided both a forum for the exchange of ideas and a springboard for follow-up school visits and problem solving:

    We got a chance to sit with our networks and bring in our work and see other principals' ideas. [These people] have been principals longer then I have, [and] have a lot more to share. So I'm always asking, "How did you do that?" or, "Can I come to your school and see that?" And they are always open and willing.

The principals from exemplary in-service programs reported far more participation in a wide range of learning opportunities than principals in the comparison group. The program principals participated more frequently in district-supported professional development that fostered educationally rich peer observations and visits to other schools, in principals' networks and conferences, and in professional development activities with teachers. Nearly all of the districts engaged principals in guided "walk-throughs" of schools to look at particular practices in classrooms and consider how to evaluate and improve learning and teaching. This powerful experiential learning was typically tied to studies of teaching, learning, and leadership that was grounded in research and theory. Because of the way the learning process was structured, principals in the districts we studied were also significantly more likely to find school visits, principals' networks, professional reading, and research helpful to improving their practice.

Learning Leadership Practice in Practice

In the districts we studied, much of school leaders' professional learning is grounded in analyses of classroom practice and teacher development. Three of the districts - Hartford, New York City's Region 1, and San Diego - use regular principals' conferences to anchor this learning.

These are tied to school visits, coaching, and other supports for implementing new practices.

In Region 1, for example, local instructional superintendents and their leadership teams, consisting of select principals, instructional specialists, and English language learner coaches, meet monthly with staff from the University of Pittsburgh's Institute for Learning (IFL) for targeted professional development. These leaders subsequently meet with principals from their networks to disseminate what they've learned, sometimes replicating parts of the IFL workshops.

During one of our visits, we observed a day-long session led by IFL staff focused on "accountable talk," a teaching practice the district was trying to develop in classrooms. School leaders were being taught to help teachers learn how to facilitate students' use of strong reasoning and discipline-appropriate evidence, such as proofs in mathematics, data from investigations in science, and textual details in literature.

The session began with questions from principals who had tried previously to introduce the concept to teachers in their schools. The IFL staff then focused the discussion on the application of accountable talk in mathematics instruction, eventually breaking the group into subgroups to code examples of this talk in transcripts of teaching sessions. After debriefing the exercise, the subgroups were presented a math problem to solve in their small groups while IFL staff circulated in order to help participants reflect on their thinking processes and support those who were stuck. The problem-solving exercise, which produced intense conversations in the groups, was followed by a debriefing intended to link the principals' experience to student learning, specifically to drive home the challenges that some students face in learning math. The session closed with an in-depth discussion of how each group would translate what they had learned to the principals in their immediate networks.

The next month, these ideas were brought to the larger group, which includes all principals and one assistant principal or lead teacher from each school. Experienced principals and a local instructional superintendent (LIS) who had participated in the initial training session facilitated the meeting, beginning with a set of video clips of some typical classrooms. Participants worked in small groups with the video to identify instances of accountable talk and to differentiate instruction that was teacher-directed from that which was student-centered. Participants also discussed ways to develop critical thinking in mathematics and engaged in an exercise that enabled the principals to solve a problem and reflect on their own discussion of solutions in light of the notion of accountable talk. The subgroups of principals also coded a common transcript of teaching to identify the language teachers used to support students in presenting and justifying their thinking.

After debriefing this exercise, the principals discussed strategies they could each use to promote the practice of accountable talk in their schools, highlighting the potential impact of observing videotapes of real teaching. The LIS who attended the sessions encouraged principals to videotape their teachers and to work with them to analyze their talk. Throughout, she stressed the importance of principals and teachers reflecting on their practice and closed by distributing several books that would provide grist for future work on improving instruction.

2. Exemplary programs produce well prepared leaders who engage in effective practices

Our research suggests that it is possible to create pre- and in-service programs that develop principals who can engage successfully in many of the practices associated with school success: cultivating a shared vision and practice, leading instructional improvement, developing organizational capacity, and managing change. Compared to a national random sample of principals, graduates of these programs, on average:2

  • feel significantly better prepared for virtually every aspect of principal practice, ranging from leading instruction and organizational learning to developing a school vision and engaging parents and the community;
  • have more positive attitudes about the principalship and are more likely to plan to stay in the job, despite working in more challenging urban environments;
  • spend more time on instructionally focused work;
  • are more likely to report that their school gained in organizational functioning and in teacher effectiveness and engagement in the last year;
  • report more participation in a broader range of learning opportunities; and
  • make developing and supporting their teachers a priority.3

Researchers who followed a sub-sample of principals in their schools also found that these principals focused on instructional leadership and supported school improvement, which was evident in school outcomes. Furthermore, teachers from these schools who were surveyed were, on average, significantly more likely than teachers in a national sample to view their school leaders as encouraging professional collaboration, facilitating professional development for teachers, and encouraging staff to use evaluation results in planning curriculum and instruction.

Pre-Service Preparation

Graduates of the four pre-service preparation programs we selected - Bank Street's Principals' Institute, Delta State University (DSU), the University of Connecticut's Aspiring Principal Program (UCAPP), and the Educational Leadership Development Academy (ELDA) at the University of San Diego - felt significantly better prepared for nearly every aspect of leadership practice, the one exception being operational areas such as management of school facilities. On average, graduates rated themselves significantly better prepared for instructional leadership and management of school improvement, including:

  • creating a collaborative learning organization,
  • planning professional development,
  • using data to monitor school progress,
  • engaging staff in decision-making,
  • leading change efforts,
  • planning for improvement,
  • redesigning their schools to enhance teaching and learning, and
  • engaging in continuous learning.

Graduates of the exemplary programs who became principals were significantly more likely than the comparison principals to hold positive beliefs about the principalship and feel more strongly committed to it.

Graduates of the exemplary programs who became principals were significantly more likely than the comparison principals to hold positive beliefs about the principalship and feel more strongly committed to it. They also reported working longer hours and spending more time than comparison principals on the instructional activities that have been linked to stronger school performance, including building a professional learning community among staff, evaluating and providing feedback to teachers, and using data to monitor school progress.

Typical of others was this description of planning for teacher support from a UCAPP graduate working as a principal in Hartford:

    The first course of business is to provide support for the teacher in whatever area I notice the teacher is weak in. I may provide additional professional development elements, and that could take the form of going to a formal workshop or visiting another teacher's room who is successful in that area. [Or I can support] the teacher myself, sitting down to brainstorm or come up with ideas that will support that teacher. I may even send a teacher to another school that is more successful in a specific curriculum initiative. I want to provide the teacher with as much support as possible.

Similarly, a Delta State graduate who was working as a high school principal explained:

    Eighty percent of my job is teacher supervision. It entails, first of all, patting them on the back when they are doing a good job. Whenever I see something good, I always emphasize that first. [Then it entails] observation, and evaluation, and assessment, giving them some feedback so they can understand, and plotting a plan for improvement if we need it.

A Bank Street graduate, currently working as an elementary principal, sounded the same themes, attributing her focus on being a visible instructional presence in her school to her Bank Street training and noting, "The instructional leader has to be where the action is, and the action is in the classroom." She emphasized the importance of building relationships with teachers that are focused on instruction, such that they know that she is "not out to get teachers, but out to get them better."

Like this principal, graduates of exemplary programs were, on average, more likely to attribute their confidence and effectiveness to their preparation and more likely to report that they would select the same program if they had another opportunity to choose. The graduates were committed to the principalship. Most (60%) of the 2002-2004 graduates of exemplary programs were already principals by 2005, another 20% were assistant principals, and most of the remainder expected to take on such posts soon - a high proportion compared with many programs nationally. Most studies find that only about 20% to 30% of graduates of administrator preparation programs enter principalships within several years of graduating, and fewer than half enter any kind of administrative position. The program principals were also more likely than a national sample to say they planned to stay in the job, despite the fact that they tend to work in more challenging urban schools serving more low-income and minority students.

In-Service Professional Development

We found similar emphases in the work of principals who participated in the district in-service programs we studied in San Diego (closely linked to ELDA); New York Region #1 (partnered with Bank Street's Principal Institute); Jefferson County, Kentucky; and Hartford, Connecticut. On average, these principals reported engaging in practices associated with instructional leadership and organizational improvement at higher rates than principals in the national comparison group. They were also more likely to believe that being a change-agent was part of their role. As a principal in San Diego explained:

    I think it's really important to look at your data and see what's working and what isn't, to involve everybody in that process, [and] look at how you can build capacity. This goes back to the training that we received with the district - to look at your staff and identify their strengths and areas they need to work on. I think it's building a culture of learners and letting the staff know that you're a learner too, and that we're in this together as staff, parents, and students.

New principals in the exemplary programs reported more positive beliefs, and fewer negative ones, about the principalship than new principals in the comparison group. Both new and veteran principals in these districts, on average, reported working longer hours as well as holding a stronger commitment to remaining in the principalship.

"The instructional leader has to be where the action is, and the action is in the classroom."
- Bank Street graduate

3. Program success is influenced by leadership , partnerships , and Financial support

In addition to district supports for school improvement, the study pointed to three facilitating conditions that were present, to varying extents, in the exemplary programs: dedicated program champions and leaders; the political will and capacity to build university-district partnerships; and significant financial support.


Each of the exemplary programs benefited from a core team of leaders who acted as tireless champions for the program. Program faculty consistently attributed the creation, survival, and success of their programs to leaders who had the vision, commitment, and capacity to coordinate stakeholders, secure resources, and implement critical features well. Leadership was provided by people in a variety of roles: district superintendents, college deans, university and district program directors, and combinations of these. It is noteworthy that the districts in our sample had superintendents who defied the national trends and remained in their school systems for many years.


In each program, these leaders were instrumental in forging the interinstitutional partnerships that appeared to contribute profoundly to the programs' successes. San Diego Unified School District developed a strong partnership with the University of San Diego, which designed both a preparation program and induction support for new principals that were tailored to the district's needs and tied to the district's instructional reform and in-service program. Region 1 of the New York City Public Schools worked closely with Bank Street College to create a cohort-based program to prepare leaders for the unique needs of that district. The Jefferson County Public Schools worked with the University of Louisville to develop a credentialing program for aspiring principals that aligns closely with the district approach to teaching and learning and to its in-service development framework. The Hartford Public Schools collaborated with Central Connecticut State University to provide an on-site credentialing program. The University of Connecticut's UCAPP worked closely with districts, including Hartford, and the state principals' association to provide in-depth field experiences for its candidates. Delta State University developed its program in consultation with the regional superintendents' association and works closely with local superintendents to recruit students, place them in internships, and prepare them to work in Delta schools.

The programs we studied were distinguished by the willingness of central actors in both districts and universities to facilitate cross-sector collaborations. For example, districts provided subsidies for credits, streamlined hiring, and, in some cases, collaborated in the development of university curricula. Universities provided tuition waivers, mentors, and coaches for new principals and faculty for district-based professional development. As evidenced by these partnerships, collaborations among organizations help prepare principals for specific district and regional contexts and expand the resources available to programs for high-quality coursework and field placements. In addition, collaborations between universities and districts increase the likelihood that leaders continue to receive relevant and consistent support and professional development.

Financial Support

It is not surprising that financial support emerged as an important enabling condition of strong programs. On average, graduates of exemplary programs were much more likely to receive financial support to attend their programs than comparison principals, although the amount of support varied widely across programs. Federal, state, and foundation grants, as well as district and university contributions, provided this support. Perhaps the most powerful effect of financing occurred through its impact on the design of internships and the ability of candidates in some programs to undertake full-time study. We found that financial assistance also allows programs to recruit more selectively - to target candidates from under-represented populations and to recruit strong teachers who might not otherwise be able to take time away from paid employment to participate in a preparation program.

On average, graduates of exemplary programs were much more likely to receive financial support to attend their programs than comparison principals.

4. Funding strategies influenCe the design and effectiveness of programs

To make informed strategic choices about program design, policymakers and program leaders must anticipate the resource requirements of different program options. Both financial and human resources - including the cost of reallocating staff time from other duties - must be taken into account in the program planning and funding strategy. The primary costs of the programs we studied include general administration and infrastructure, recruitment and selection, coursework, workshops, internships, mentoring, networking, and group meetings. Within these categories, personnel expenses were the largest (68 to 95% of total costs across the programs). Evaluations of the costs of various models, detailed in the complete report, must be considered in light of the benefits of specific program elements. In particular, we found that purposeful outreach and careful selection, as well as coherent coursework wrapped around intensive internships, were investments that had noticeable payoffs in candidate competence and success.

The way these costs are covered is important both for designing programs and for institutionalizing them. As we have noted, participants in these exemplary programs are less likely, in the aggregate, to bear all the costs of their training than are other principals nationally.

Although some of the exemplary preparation programs are still largely supported by tuition payments, higher education institutions subsidize programs in a variety of ways: by providing faculty, staff, space, and materials, as well as tuition grants or donated time. In our sample, universities bore up to 18% of the costs of their preparation programs. Some universities discounted tuition for candidates from their district partners, and contributions of uncompensated staff time constituted a direct subsidy by dedicated individuals.

Other sources of funding for preparation and in-service programs include federal, state, or foundation grants; targeted district funds; and reallocations of existing district resources. Districts may, for example, redirect existing administrator meeting time to professional development, or they may reassign supervisory jobs to support training either by assigning interns to supervise summer school or appointing interns as assistant principals. At each level of the system, financing strategies reflect the priority placed on principal development and create incentives or disincentives for innovations in recruiting, training, and development.

State and federal funding play a pivotal role in supporting a few exemplary programs. A state's capacity to influence program design through financing policy was most vividly demonstrated in Mississippi. As part of its commitment to comprehensive reform, the State funds a sabbatical program to subsidize training for prospective principals. This policy sets the stage for a high-quality internship and enables DSU to recruit candidates with high potential. Federal funds provide additional subsidies: DSU received an award from the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education program while JCPS and Region 1 used Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act funds to support their principal training initiatives.

Foundation funding has been critical for launching a number of these programs, creating both opportunities for program design and challenges when funding runs out. Such funding has, for example, allowed the creation of stronginternships that have produced demonstrable benefits. When funds are no longer available for such internships, districts have developed ways to sustain them at various levels, often relying on stop-gap measures that are not quite as powerful as the original design. More stable, institutionalized sources of funding are clearly desirable.

5. State and district policies influence program designs and outcomes

As the discussion above suggests, creating high-quality principal development models that survive over the long term will require more systematic policy supports. As we examined policy influences on the programs studied and the broader landscape of policy alternatives, we noted real differences in principals' reports of their learning opportunities, many of which were related to differences in state policies. The policy levers states use to support and sustain the recruitment and development of school leaders include:

  • The use of standards, accreditation, and assessment to guide program change and stimulate participation in professional learning;
  • The creation of strategies that support candidate recruitment and access to high-quality training; and
  • The development of state and local infrastructures for ongoing professional learning.

Here we summarize how the more powerful levers operated across the eight states we studied, and how some of them appeared to affect the programs in our sample.

The Use of Standards to Drive Change

Virtually all the programs we studied identified the use of professional standards for licensing administrators as highly influential in improving their programs. At least 46 states, including seven of the eight states we studied, have adopted the ISLLC standards for principal preparation as part of their program approval process; the standards have also been incorporated into the accreditation process of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Although widespread adoption of these standards has focused programs more explicitly on instructional leadership and school improvement, states vary in how they have used the standards.

Requiring national accreditation played a key role in states like Mississippi and New York, which closed down their administrator certification programs and required them to meet state and national standards in order to be re-opened or re-registered. This not only promoted new program emphases and greater coherence by focusing program officials on the standards as they revised their programs, it also had the effect of shutting down programs that did not meet these new standards. The high-quality programs at Delta State and Bank Street can be partly attributed to the use of standards in these states, which reinforced the changes they were already making.

Some states also use data from performance assessments of principals, which are based on the ISLLC standards, to review and accredit programs as well as to assess the readiness of individual school leaders. Connecticut's Administrator Test, for example, serves both purposes. This state-developed assessment uses performance tasks, including videotapes of teaching and samples of student work, to evaluate principals' abilities to evaluate teaching and guide teacher professional development, and to design school improvement processes based on research and knowledge of specific school contexts. It appears to be one of the drivers for Connecticut principals' high levels of preparedness and engagement in teacher evaluation, professional development, and school-wide problem-solving. It also influences practice at UCAPP and other preparation programs in the state. Because Connecticut requires 80% of a program's graduates to pass the test for the program to keep its accreditation, the assessment is a strong policy lever.

State requirements for certification have also motivated on-going professional development. Many states, such as California, Delaware, and Kentucky, have adopted tiered credentialing systems that require additional training and support before new administrators can gain a professional credential. These systems stimulated the ELDA Tier 2 program in San Diego and induction supports for new principals in Jefferson County. Some states also require ongoing professional development credits for license renewal. State re-certification policies in Connecticut, Kentucky, Mississippi, and New York encourage veteran principals to participate in professional development that is funded by their districts and provided through university-district collaborations.

Supports for Candidate Recruitment and Development

As we have noted, Delta State's program was made possible by Mississippi School Administrator Sabbatical Program, which allows districts to target talented teachers for a full year of preparation, including a year-long internship. An even more ambitious model is North Carolina's Principal Fellows Program, which underwrites preparation in eight public universities and supports full-time internships with expert principals in participating school districts. In exchange for this support, participants sign on to a minimum of four years of service in the state's schools. From its founding in 1993 through 2006, this program supplied North Carolina with 800 highly trained principals. Half of all current candidates in master's degree programs for administration are North Carolina Principal Fellows.

At the local level, districts are increasingly developing policies to recruit prospective principals and provide strong internship placements. All four of the districts we studied had developed pathways into preparation for candidates they identified as worth recruiting into the principalship. These were supported by policies offsetting costs, ranging from tuition reimbursement or waivers to paid internships. Three of these districts - Jefferson County, NYC Region 1, and San Diego - had figured out how to fund some form of internship and firstyear mentoring for some or all candidates. Reflecting an important change of policy, none of these districts were continuing to rely on self-selected applicants who came to them having completed training in which the district had no role. Instead, the districts had all become more purposeful in recruiting and selecting principal candidates and helping to shape their development, in collaboration with partner universities. Four of the states we studied provide financial support for principal internships or mentoring.

At the local level, districts are increasingly developing policies to recruit prospective principals and provide strong internship placements. All four of the districts we studied had developed pathways into preparation for candidates they identified as worth recruiting into the principalship.

Development of State and Local Infrastructure

Most of the states we studied have created an infrastructure for ongoing principal professional development that focuses on the concrete skills of instructional leadership. Among the eight states we studied, six support at least one state leadership academy that helps organize, broker, and provide this professional development.

In Delaware, a state-funded Principal's Academy housed at the University of Delaware helps to implement the state's mentoring program, as well as offer other courses for school leaders. State-funded administrator academies ensure a stable source of highly rated learning opportunities for principals and other school leaders in North Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi. The substantial continuing professional development that Delta State principals find helpful is offered primarily by the School Executive Management Institute (SEMI) in the State Department of Education. The Institute provides all inservice training to entry-level administrators in a two-year series of sessions that convert the entry-level license to a career-level license. SEMI also offers the courses that allow career-level license holders to renew their license every 5 years. In Connecticut, an Urban Leadership Academy provides professional development for administrators in Bristol, East Hartford, and Hartford.

Finally, broader state policies establish contexts that can influence leadership development. For example, in San Diego, Hartford, and Region 1, leadership programs were part of comprehensive reforms to improve instruction. Although districts in San Diego and New York City drove reform with little direct state policy support, accountability systems in California and New York State had raised concerns about achievement and thus motivated these reform efforts. Similarly, some of Jefferson County's leadership initiatives were undertaken in connection with a larger reform project motivated by the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA).

Hartford's reform was influenced not only by state takeover of the district, but also by Connecticut's broader standards-based reform, which had incorporated principals into an ambitious overhaul of teaching beginning in 1986. In addition to focusing attention on student learning, the Education Enhancement Act raised salaries for teachers and principals while dramatically raising standards for teaching. Principals were trained to evaluate teachers through the state's beginningteacher assessment system and later given re-certification credits for scoring teacher portfolios. The state thereby made teacher assessment a focus of administrator preparation and development, a move it later reinforced through the administrator assessments described earlier.

These broader elements of state and local policy help to organize leadership development around a conception of teaching, learning, and leading that is reinforced in a number of ways to become a central mission for schools, rather than an isolated activity on the margins.

These broader elements of state and local policy help to organize leadership development around a conception of teaching, learning, and leading that is reinforced in a number of ways to become a central mission for schools, rather than an isolated activity on the margins.

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    2. The sample of program graduates includes both practicing principals and graduates who have not yet become principals. Because we surveyed recent graduates of programs, and several programs are designed to send their graduates into assistant principalships, rather than directly into principalships, we included all graduates in these analyses to capture a large enough sample from each program. We also conducted separate analyses that compared only graduates who were practicing principals to the national sample, and while this underrepresented some programs, the results were similar.
    3. The full report disaggregates the data and reveals some variability across programs in these outcomes. It is noteworthy that with only a few exceptions on outcome measures, exemplary programs scored better than the comparison programs.