- The Dallas-based Bush Institute is working to improve principal training programs in four school districts, including the Austin Independent School District (AISD), as part of its new School Leadership District Cohort, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
- The other three districts are Fort Worth Independent School District, Chesterfield County Public Schools in Virginia and Granite School District in Utah.
- Since 2016, 40 principals in AISD have left their positions, which district officials say indicates the need for better recruitment and preparation of administrators. Last year, the district began an administrator training program, and leaders at the Bush Institute highlighted the district’s commitment to strengthening training for principals and assistant principals as a reason for involving them in the cohort initiative.
Just as school leaders have a role in recruiting and retaining teachers, district-level administrators need a system for preparing principals and assistant principals for leadership and providing them with support once they are in those positions. A 2016 report from the Coalition for Teaching Quality — an organization that represents more than 100 local, state and national education and advocacy groups — recommended that districts, in partnership with states, modernize the process of recruiting principals and matching them to the right schools. Using research-based screening tools that assess an educator’s leadership skills is one way to accomplish this, the report said.
The organization also recommended expanding the range of responsibilities given to assistant principals so they are better prepared to move into principal spots. Assistant principals are often in charge of discipline-related matters, for example, but they should also be involved in instructional decisions or other school management issues. The report recommended grants and education loan forgiveness programs to assist those educators who desire leadership roles.
And finally, the authors noted that a cohort model, in which principals are exposed to a “a consistent model of leadership” and have opportunities for action research and on-the-job experience, is one of the most effective ways to train and retain school leaders.