Panel: Promising Approaches to Developing and Supporting Effective School Principals

Friday, November 8, 2019: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 15 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Melissa Clark, Mathematica
Panel Chair:  Elizabeth Warner, U.S. Department of Education
Discussants:  Susanna Loeb, Brown University and Clay Hunter, Gwinnett County Public Schools

Principals play a critical role in the success of their schools, yet little is known about how to improve their effectiveness. This panel explores a diverse set of promising approaches for developing and supporting effective principals.

The first paper examines the effectiveness of an effort to prepare and support effective principals through the New Leaders Aspiring Principals Program. The program has three core features: selective recruitment and admission, training and endorsement, and support for principals early in their tenure. The paper uses a matched comparison group design to estimate the effects of the program on student achievement and principals’ job placement, retention, and satisfaction.

The second paper explores efforts to train principals to support deeper student learning, shifting instruction in their schools away from rote learning and standardization toward more innovative, experiential learning approaches. It includes findings from in-depth case studies of five exemplary principal preparation and professional development programs. It examines how the programs prepare principals to support deeper student learning, factors that support or inhibit the development and sustainability of the programs, and their success in preparing leaders for deeper learning.

The third paper examines the effectiveness of intensive professional development and individualized coaching focused on instructional leadership for elementary school principals. It uses a random assignment design and a multi-state sample of 100 elementary schools to estimate the effects of the program on principals’ leadership practices, school climate, teacher and principal retention, teacher effectiveness, and student achievement.

The final paper examines the effectiveness of a large-scale initiative to improve principal effectiveness by redefining the role of the principal supervisor. The aim of the initiative is to transform a position traditionally focused on administration, operations, and compliance to one dedicated to developing and supporting principals’ work to improve instruction in their schools. The paper uses a case study design to describe changes the districts made to the principal supervisor position and a propensity score matching design to estimate the effects of the initiative on principals’ performance in six large urban school districts.

The discussants will focus on the papers’ implications for policy and practice.

Preparing School Leaders for Success: Evaluation of New Leaders’ Aspiring Principals Program 2012–2017
Susan Gates, Matthew D. Baird, Christopher Joseph Doss, Linda Hamilton, Isaac Opper, Benjamin Master, Andrea Prado Tuma, Mirka Vuollo and Melanie Zaber, RAND Corporation

Leadership Preparation for Deeper Learning: New Conceptions from the Field
Marjorie E. Wechsler, Julie Adams, Desiree Carver-Thomas, Daniel Espinoza, Madelyn Gardner and Maria Hyler, Learning Policy Institute

Evaluation of Support for Principals: Effects of Intensive Professional Development and Coaching for Elementary School Principals
Mariesa Herrmann, Melissa Clark, Christina Tuttle, Susanne James-Burdumy, Tim Kautz, Virginia Knechtel, Dallas Dotter and Claire Smither Wulsin, Mathematica

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