Report: Long-term coaching critical in retaining principals
- The NYC Leadership Academy announced the publication this week of new research on the impact of coaching principals in a report entitled “Still in the Game: How Coaching Keeps Leaders in Schools and Making Progress.”
- The research indicates that New York City principals who have worked with leadership coaches for at least five years remained at their schools twice as long as the national average, improved their ability to “supervise staff, distribute leadership, communicate, and lead with resilience,” avoided the complacency that sometimes comes with long-term leadership, and were able to develop beneficial and trusting relationships with their coaches.
- Nationwide, about half of principals participate in mentoring or coaching programs, though support is typically reserved for leaders requiring remediation or first-year principals.
This report, which can be obtained in full by filling out information on the organization's website, makes a case for long-term support of principals through mentoring by non-evaluative coaches. The purpose of such mentoring is to help these school leaders deal with challenges they face, help them become more effective at improving school culture and performance, and retain them at their school. Principal turnover can be expensive, costing an average of $75,000, according to a 2014 report. Excessive principal turnover can also delay school improvement while teachers and other staff members adjust to a new leadership dynamic.
In a policy brief, the New York Leadership Academy suggests eight policy changes that school district should make to better support principals. These suggestions, which are further explained in the brief, include the following:
- Make coaching a part of new principal induction
- Offer coaching beyond the first two years of the principalship
- Budget coaching into per-pupil expenditures
- Take advantage of the flexibility offered by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
- Provide principals with an ongoing, non-evaluative thought partner
- Re-envision the principal supervisor role as supportive, not just evaluative
- Consider cost-effective ways to supplement and enhance one-on-one coaching
- Develop coach skills and monitor progress to ensure success
As the role of principals changes, principal supervisors' roles are changing as well. In the current educational climate, principals need more support than ever before. School districts also need to create principal pipelines that can help build leadership skills in potential principals. However, most school districts have tight budgetary frameworks, and providing long-term support for principals in the form of coaches may not be an option. In those cases, professional development programs or stronger collaboration between principals in support of one another may provide other forms of support and leadership development.
- NYC Leadership Academy Leadership Academy research: Ongoing coaching keeps principals in schools