Illinois Public Act 096-0903 was enacted in 2010 and reformed the way principals were recruited, prepared and credentialed throughout the state of Illinois. The new Act mandated that all programs seeking to prepare principals apply for state approval under the new requirements; and in 2012, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) began accepting applications for approval from principal preparation programs under the new regulations. Since then, education officials from around the state have been eager to understand how the changes brought on by IL P.A. 096-0903 have affected the supply of qualified school leaders in Illinois. Unfortunately, no statewide repository exists that provides all data necessary to accurately describe or predict supply and demand figures for school leaders. The reliability and validity of data available from a variety of sources are questionable due to a number of reasons. For example, because the Type 75 certificate qualified candidates for a wide variety of roles, it cannot accurately be used to define a pool of candidates for principal positions. Therefore it is virtually impossible to determine a baseline of the supply of potential principals available prior to the policy change.
Since data are unclear in terms of the impact on the pipeline of principals and assistant principals in Illinois, a white paper, Statewide Data on Supply and Demand of Principals After Policy Changes to Principal Preparation in Illinois (2016, A. Haller and E. Hunt, Center for the Study of Education Policy), claims that it would be premature to make any revisions to the new regulations. Instead, Haller and Hunt argue that the state should consider implementing three key strategies prior to making any further changes to the regulations governing principal preparation:
- Develop a longitudinal data system that collects and stores a wide variety of metrics that can more accurately inform supply and demand studies and support the development of a strong pipeline of effective principals;
- Identify regional differences in supply and demand and ensure equitable distribution of resources to support an adequate pipeline of school leaders for every district in the state; and
- Support district level implementation of effective talent management practices, such as developing a clear leadership vacancy strategy and improving recruitment, selection, training, and retention of principals and assistant principals.
According to Haller and Hunt, these three key strategies are essential for the state to determine a clear picture of supply and demand, but more importantly, to ensure our schools are led by effective principals capable of improving student outcomes.