Panel Paper: Preparing School Leaders for Success: Evaluation of New Leaders’ Aspiring Principals Program 2012–2017

Friday, November 8, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 15 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Susan Gates, Matthew D. Baird, Christopher Joseph Doss, Linda Hamilton, Isaac Opper, Benjamin Master, Andrea Prado Tuma, Mirka Vuollo and Melanie Zaber, RAND Corporation

Underappreciated in the calls to direct more resources to teachers and classrooms are the ways in which principals influence classrooms and, ultimately, student achievement. New Leaders aims to prepare transformational school leaders by partnering with districts and charter schools to offer rigorous, research-based training for aspiring principals. The Aspiring Principals program is New Leaders’ signature program and has three core features: selective recruitment and admission, training and endorsement, and support for principals early in their tenure.

This report is a follow-up to the 2014 evaluation of the New Leaders Aspiring Principals program. Focusing on the revised program, which was first implemented in 2012, the authors present evidence of the effectiveness of the revised Aspiring Principals program and share lessons that can inform principal-preparation policy and practice.

To assess the effect of the New Leaders Aspiring Principals program, researchers analyzed whether schools and students led by graduates of the program outperformed comparison schools and students in the same district, focusing on school achievement rates, program-graduate placement and retention, and satisfaction with the Aspiring Principals program.

The study found that:

  • Students in K-8 schools led by New Leaders principals outperformed students in K-8 schools led by other new principals.
  • Individual-level student attendance was higher for students who attended K–8 schools with a New Leaders principal.
  • New principals who completed the Aspiring Principals program were more likely than other new principals in the same districts to remain at their schools as principals for a second year.
  • New Leaders principals displayed competencies in the Aspiring Principals program such as instructional leadership and adult and team leadership that were related to school, student and principal retention outcomes.
  • A large share of Aspiring Principals completers are hired into principal positions by partner districts.
  • Aspiring Principals program participants and partner districts viewed the program favorably.