Using state-level policy levers to promote principal quality

Effective school principals are associated with better outcomes for students and schools, and states play a role in fostering an environment that develops and supports effective principals. The authors of this report examine how seven states are using state-level policy levers to improve the quality of school principals. Each of the states is part of The Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI), which launched in 2016 and brings together a university-based principal preparation program with school districts and state partners in each state to support the development of effective principals. In examining state efforts, the authors focus on seven policy levers that states can use to improve school leadership—standards, recruiting, approval and oversight of principal preparation programs, licensing, professional development, evaluation, and leader tracking systems—and identify cross-state themes and generalizable lessons.

Principal professional development in U.S. public schools in 2017-18

A new Statistics in Brief report, Principal Professional Development in U.S. Public Schools in 2017-18, examines professional development topics and activities reported by public school principals. This report uses data from the 2017-18 National Teacher and Principal Survey Public School Principal Data File. In 2017–18, most public school principals (95 percent) with at least one year of experience at their current school reported participating in professional development during the prior school year. The most prevalent type of professional development activity reported by these principals was participating in workshops or conferences in which they were not a presenter (94 percent), and the least prevalent activity was taking university courses related to their role as principal (19 percent).Principals in city schools more often reported participating in visits to other schools designed to improve their own work as principal than did principals in suburban, town, or rural schools (78 percent compared with 59 to 69 percent). Principals in city schools also more often reported participating in mentoring and/or peer observation and coaching of principals than schools located in other types of communities (59 percent compared with 45 to 51 percent).

Policy Brief: Calm during crisis – school principal approaches to crisis management during the COVID-19 pandemic

Principals formulated their responses to the pandemic in terms of a hierarchy of needs: they understood that their students and staff had to feel physically and psychologically safe before they would be successful in the classroom. This is one of a series of briefs that focused on a ‘critical incident’ surrounding school closure and offers pragmatic suggestions to educational leaders as they continue to grapple with the disruptions of the pandemic.

Policy Brief: District response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Districts providing strong centralized Covid-19 responses approached the crisis from a top-down leadership and guidance model which constrained school flexibility to act outside of the district’s direction. This is one of a series of briefs that focused on a ‘critical incident’ surrounding school closure and offers pragmatic suggestions to educational leaders as they continue to grapple with the disruptions of the pandemic.

Policy Brief: An examination of challenges educators and families faced in the aftermath of COVID-19

As schools begin to fully or phase into re-opening, they should ensure that the 3 “I”s that have emerged during Covid-19 in education; infrastructure, interaction, and instruction (both in-person and online) are adequately addressed. This is one of a series of briefs that focused on a ‘critical incident’ surrounding school closure and offers pragmatic suggestions to educational leaders as they continue to grapple with the disruptions of the pandemic.

Policy Brief: Accountability during school closures: moving from external to internal

This inquiry found that the lack of external accountability pressures neither appeared to negatively impact teachers’ efforts, commitment to relevancy and rigor in their classrooms, or their responsiveness to families. This is one of a series of briefs that focused on a ‘critical incident’ surrounding school closure and offers pragmatic suggestions to educational leaders as they continue to grapple with the disruptions of the pandemic.

Policy Brief: Principal as caregiver of all – responding to needs of others and self

When the school buildings closed in the spring, educators and families faced unknown challenges of supporting students remotely and continuing to provide the necessary resources for student learning and well-being. Principals responded with advocacy and compassion. This is one of a series of briefs that focused on a ‘critical incident’ surrounding school closure and offers pragmatic suggestions to educational leaders as they continue to grapple with the disruptions of the pandemic.

Participation in a professional development program on culturally responsive practices in Wisconsin

State and school district leaders in Wisconsin are interested in improving educational outcomes among Black students across the state. Implementing culturally responsive practices aims to improve the academic achievement and behavioral outcomes of minority students. Through continued support from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, a professional development training program for culturally responsive practices, Building Culturally Responsive Systems, has been one of the primary models to inform culturally responsive practices. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and education stakeholders in Wisconsin have asked for more comprehensive information about schools’ participation in this program. Using data from the 2012/13–2018/19 school years, this study examined the program’s uptake and reach across the state and its relationship to school outcomes. The study used data on Wisconsin school characteristics from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data. 

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