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The Principal Perspective: A Research Roundup

The Center for Public Education, a project of the National School Boards Association, released a report today that serves as a comprehensive compilation of studies into principal effectiveness.

Called The Principal Perspective, the report repeats the assertion made by some researchers that principals are second only to teachers in their impact on student achievement.

The report also says:

  • The job of principal has changed dramatically, with principals focusing on student achievement as well as traditional managerial duties;

  • Principals in low-achieving or high-poverty schools tend to have a larger impact on their students than principals in less-challenging schools;

  • Principal turnover adversely affects schools;

  • Effective principals recruit and retain effective teachers;

  • Principals become more effective as they gain experience; and,

  • Instructional leadership is the hallmark of being an effective principal.

Effective principals tend three years of experience at that school, share leadership responsibilities, have a clear sense of instructional goals, and conduct unannounced, informal teacher evaluations or classroom visits and give feedback afterward, according to the research gathered for the study.

The report then ends with some questions that school board members should ask themselves, such as how are effective principals evaluated, and what incentives does the district give to principals to lead challenging schools? "School boards, educators and policymakers who focus on supporting the principal's role as instructional leader will be supporting what's best for students as well," the report concludes.

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