A RAND Corporation study examined the Wallace Foundation's Principal Pipeline Initiative launched in six urban school districts across the country in 2011, providing new information about the costs of building a principal pipeline, eSchool News reports
Elizabeth Ty Wilde, senior research and evaluation officer at Wallace, said the findings of the study reveal that “districts can make progress on key aspects of building principal pipelines aimed at developing effective leaders, and can cover a large percentage of those costs with existing funds.”
While this report focuses on the affordability of such programs designed to reduce principal and teacher turnover, It does not address the impact on student learning and other outcomes. RAND expects to examine those issues in a second report slated for publication in December 2018.
Finding and developing good leaders in a school district is an essential part of improving the overall quality of instruction. Good leadership can not only establish and maintain proper quality controls for instruction, it also inspires teacher retention and student achievement. In recent years, several states have tried various Race to the Too supported strategies to establish principal pipelines in order to promote quality, stable leadership. However, cash-strapped school districts often see such strategies as too-expensive to maintain.
However, these results may be obtainable through careful reallocation of some existing funds. The RAND Corporation report, "What It Takes to Operate and Maintain Principal Pipelines," revealed that school districts participating in the Principal Pipeline Initiative contributed less than one percent of their total district expenditures to pipeline efforts.
While money spent on establishing principal pipelines may still seem an extra burden to some school districts, school districts also need to consider the real impact of principal turnover in terms of replacing a principal (about $75,000) and the effect such turnover has on student achievement. The professional development of school principals may also help schools in the development of superintendent succession plans, an added bonus in terms of cost and district stability.