Based on 10 years of research, the Wallace Foundation has identified four key parts of a “principal pipeline” that can develop and ensure the success of a sufficient number of principals to meet district needs: rigorous job requirements, high-quality training, selective hiring, and on-the-job evaluation and support. Now the Wallace Foundation is launching a $75-million initiative to help six U.S. urban school districts develop a larger corps of effective school principals and to determine whether this improves student achievement, especially in the highest-needs schools.
“For the past decade, Wallace and its partners have helped identify objectively what it takes to shape a principal who can improve teaching and learning, especially in troubled city schools,” said Will Miller, president, The Wallace Foundation. “We have now selected exemplary urban districts that are well on their way to putting in place the training and support necessary to have enough effective principals for all of their schools. The crucial question these grants and the associated research will explore is: can building a stronger principal pipeline improve teaching quality and student achievement district-wide?”
An answer to this question will provide education decision-makers a key missing piece of the school-reform puzzle. Research suggests that leadership is second only to teacher quality among school influences on student learning, but more needs to be known about whether efforts to improve leadership pay off for student achievement and whether these efforts can achieve results at the scale of an entire district. If the results are positive, policy makers will know more about whether and how to invest in such improvements.