New Wallace Foundation Report Offers Practical Guidelines for Improving the Training of School Principals

June 11, 2008

Contact: Jessica Schwartz
Senior Communications Officer
The Wallace Foundation


New York, June 11, 2008 – Drawing on new research and recent lessons from states, districts and universities, a Wallace Foundation report offers action-oriented guidelines to help address long-standing weaknesses in the training of school principals so that they are better able to meet today’s needs.

Becoming a Leader: Preparing Principals for Today’s Schools, reports that states and districts – many of which are participants in The Wallace Foundation’s current initiative to improve education leadership in ways that benefit teaching and learning – have been putting unprecedented energy and resources into improving the quality and job-relevance of principal training. There are also increasing signs that the education field is moving away from a persistent paradigm of the “hero leader” and is instead embracing a more realistic, productive view of leadership that involves setting school directions, developing people, and creating school cultures that are dedicated entirely to improving teaching and learning.

In line with those emerging trends, states and districts have also begun to tackle how to provide better, more job-relevant training to prepare school leaders for the demands of today’s schools.  Drawing on the current experiences of those states and districts as well as research commissioned by Wallace, Becoming a Leader offers four specific “action lessons” to guide such improvement efforts:

  1. Successful principal training programs are significantly from the majority of programs in existence. They are more selective, more focused on improvement of instruction, more closely tied to the needs of districts, and provide more relevant internships with hands-on learning experiences.
  2. Leadership training should not end when principals are hired. It should continue with high-quality mentoring for new principals and with professional development for all principals to promote career-long growth in line with the evolving needs of schools and districts.
  3. High-quality leader development can make a real difference, but providing it can involve added costs. Resources therefore should be directed at quality programs with proven benefits.
  4. Fixing what’s wrong with leadership preparation is essential, but not enough. Addressing the leadership challenge also requires remedying the difficult working conditions that can undermine even the best-trained principals.

Copies of Becoming a Leader: Preparing School Principals for Today’s Schools may be downloaded for free at Wallace’s website, Hard copies are also available at no charge and may be requested by emailing the foundation at

The Wallace Foundation
The Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people. Its three current objectives are: strengthening education leadership to improve student achievement; enhancing out-of-school learning opportunities; and expanding participation in arts and culture. The foundation maintains a Knowledge Center of free publications on what it has learned at