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RELEASE: States Can Improve Student Success by Perfecting Principal Selection Policies

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Contact: Katie Peters
Phone: 202.741.6285

Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress released a report revealing that states can improve educational outcomes for children by refining policies and requirements for school principal selection.

States play a critical role in determining who leads our country’s schools. Individual states control the two most important levers to ensure the quality of school principals—principal preparation program approval and principal licensure oversight. Each year thousands of principals across the country are licensed to serve as school leaders under antiquated laws that are misaligned to the skills and dispositions that research shows principals need to be effective.

“When principals are selected to lead schools based on criteria that fail to measure performance or competency, the academic success of our nation’s students is being put at risk,” said Cynthia Brown, Vice President of Education Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Today’s principals fill demanding roles that require strong instructional and leadership skills. By using their authority to hire highly capable school leadership, states will change outcomes for children in our nation’s schools.”

The report, entitled "Gateways to the Principalship: State Power to Improve the Quality of School Leaders," analyzes state policies and requirements for principal preparation approval and certification in a sample of 16 states—eight of which are “lagging,” and eight that are “leading” in their efforts to ensure that schools are led by effective leaders.

The analysis produced a set of specific recommendations for states to improve principal quality nationwide. The recommendations include:

  • States should develop a framework on principal effectiveness based on current best practice research that governs both principal preparation approval and licensure.
  • States should be agnostic about what entities deliver the training and development for aspiring principals.
  • When it comes to granting initial principal licensure, states should move away from input-based measures, such as years of teaching and master’s degrees, and instead move toward performance-based measures that authentically test an individual’s skills and competencies.

To read the full report, click here.


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