Preparing Strong Leaders: Race to the Top Resources
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Improving programs that prepare prospective instructional leaders is one of the handiest policy levers for States, given the scope of their authority and the impact that change at this entry point can have.

All 19 of the Race to the Top States have work underway on their principal preparation. They are trying to reframe what prospective leaders learn to reflect the new demands of college- and career-ready standards and educator effectiveness systems for evaluating both teachers and principals, create residency-based programs and hold all preparation programs accountable for delivering effective new leaders.

These efforts require strong partnerships between the policymakers who govern K-12 education and those who govern higher education and its preparation programs. Most Race to the Top States are developing public reporting to give programs data about the principals they prepare. The most aggressive require preparation programs to reapply for certification based on revamped criteria that includes curriculum- and performance-based assessments of graduates.

How Others Are Using This Policy and Practice Lever

  • Illinois has begun a full review of all principal preparation programs. To win approval, programs must focus on instructional leadership and develop partnerships with local educational agencies (LEAs). The State also has begun developing a performance-based assessment for principal candidates, including two five-hour sessions to ensure principals meet the new standards.
  • In New York City, the NYC Leadership Academy's Aspiring Principals Program (APP) is a 14-month program for educators identified through a rigorous application process who agree to work in high-need schools for at least five years. Participants undergo a six-week summer intensive during which they work on comprehensive, simulated school projects. Participants complete a 10-month residency under an experienced principal while attending twice-weekly leadership development sessions. Finally, participants attend a planning summer, which allows them to prepare for their transition.

The Reform Support Network developed this tool [PDF, 2.9M] to help States and others explore this policy and practice lever. Learn more about how others have considered this topic here [PDF, 545K].

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Last Modified: 07/24/2013