Improving State Evaluation of Principal Preparation Programs

Click here to download the full report:
Improving State Evaluation of Principal Preparation Programs

With funding from The Wallace Foundation, UCEA and New Leaders have developed the Guide to State Evaluation of Principal Preparation Programs and a related set of tools and resources for states as they begin the process of developing a quality evaluation system for principal preparation programs. The guide recommends that states begin by diagnosing existing conditions related to the two areas discussed in the above section: the prioritization of school leadership preparation and the technical capabilities needed to conduct effective reviews. The readiness assessment rubric found in Appendix A is one of the tools developed by UCEA and New Leaders; it is designed to help states distinguish whether conditions are underdeveloped, workable, or ideal for the enhanced evaluation of principal preparation programs.

States might want to consult additional tools and resources in the toolkit. The resources provide background knowledge to support states in determining what factors to consider in designing a system that fits their context. The tools include model examples that can be modified and adapted according to specific state contexts.

Summary of the Tools and Resources Included in the New Leaders and UCEA Toolkit
Tool/Resource Purpose Description

Guide to State Evaluation of Principal Preparation Programs

Provides states with detailed recommendations for the design and implementation of evaluation systems, as well as a road map for designing and implementing such systems based on an examination of their starting point.

Narrative, including design principles for systems of evaluation, a model for states to use and adapt, an overview of all the tools developed by UCEA and New Leaders, and recommendations for how to get started.

Includes a two-stage model for evaluation. Stage 1 involves the collection of information about all programs in the state and the publication of results in an annual report; stage 2 involves an in-depth review of program practices and outcomes.

State Readiness Diagnostic Rubric

Helps states assess the extent to which they are ready to implement the recommendations provided in the guide.

Rubric detailing when conditions for this work are underdeveloped, workable, and ideal. Conditions addressed include the focus, alignment, and positioning of state leadership, as well as technical capabilities of the SEA.

Program Indicators, Rubric, and Report

Provides states with specifications for an annual report that would contain consistent information to help states decide when to initiate a targeted review. The annual report would also provide candidates and districts basic data on programs.

Suggested design for an online platform with data and information for each preparation program in the state, including the status of the program and when it is due for review, and annual data points for multiple measures in each area (inputs, processes, outputs, and program graduate outcomes).

Handbook for an In-Depth Review Process

Provides states and programs with clear processes and tools to support periodic in-depth reviews of programs.

Detailed process guide for undertaking reviews, including sections on data, process, the review team, and rubrics to assess programs.

Handbook for a Targeted Review Process

Provides states and programs with processes and tools to support targeted reviews in response to concerning data.

Detailed process guide for undertaking reviews, including sections on purposes, measures, process, and reviewer credentialing.

Overview of How Preparation Programs Are Currently Reviewed by States (as of 2015)

Provides states with information to compare their current principal preparation program evaluation system to recommendations proposed in the guide.

State-by-state summary tables of what each state requires for program approval and oversight, including the data that each state requires and an analysis of gaps between what data are currently collected versus what data are recommended for annual review.

Description of Other In-Depth Program Review Processes (as of 2015)

Provides states with background on the four types of reviews that higher education leadership preparation programs are likely to experience, so they can design their system with alignment to these other review systems in mind.

Narrative description of what each type of review entails, how often it typically occurs, and common challenges. The final section describes factors preparation providers consider to be beneficial sources of change.

List of Other Tools and Resources

Provides links and reference citations for tools, research, and resources created outside of the UCEA/New Leaders project.

Bibliographic list of tools and resources, including descriptions and directions for accessing them.


In an era of increased accountability for results and an ever-improving understanding of the role that school leaders play in improving student outcomes, states face significant choices in the design and implementation of strategies for improving school leadership. Some states, such as those highlighted in this document, have included the evaluation of principal preparation programs among their core strategies for improving school leadership. Others are considering doing the same. Florida, for example, has considered legislation to overhaul the process for evaluating principal preparation programs. Tennessee is considering a new approach to evaluation as well. As these states and others proceed along these lines, it is our hope that the design principles and examples provided here-as well as the tools and resources developed collaboratively by UCEA and New Leaders, with the substantial involvement of expert academics and practitioners-provide a solid foundation for their deliberations. This is challenging work, to be sure, but developing sophisticated approaches to assessing the quality of preparation programs and acting wisely on those assessments holds real potential to boost the quality of leaders in our schools.

« Previous | Next »