Research from the Council of the Great City Schools finds changing up the role of principal supervisors is paying off with longer principal retention and more effective support, with shifting expectations for these administrators allowing more time to visit schools and understand what each principal needs, Education Week reports.
The findings show these administrators are now supervising about 16 principals, down from 24 in 2012, and tenure doubled to six years on average, up from three years in 2012.
The research also shows the supervisors are now more involved in touring the schools and discussing student data, teacher performance and principal performance with school leaders, and the principals say the changes have made leadership from the supervisors more consistent and helpful.
Changes in the principal role are prompted by the evolving demands of principals. No longer are principals considered just a rule enforcer. They are now expected to be instructional leaders tasked with supporting teachers, students and even parents. Meanwhile, they are still expected to perform the daily responsibilities that come with running a school. By redefining their supervisors’ roles, districts are digging deep into principals' needs to give them more support in these expanding functions.
Research finds strong principal leaders are essential for a positive school climate that includes teacher satisfaction, retention, parent engagement and student achievement. An initiative to improve the effectiveness of principal supervisors also found principals were most supported when districts reduced the number of principals being supervised and added training.
Principals at schools that participated in the initiative were able to take part in small-group learning communities that allowed for collaboration. There were also apprentice programs designed to prepare potential supervisors for their roles. In addition, cental office departments began coordinating with each other in a move that created a cultural shift.
Follow-up research shows the added principal support is paying off. For example, the Rand Corporation found schools that were part of the Principal Pipeline Initiative, paid for by The Wallace Foundation, have higher student achievement in both reading and math compared to similar schools that did not participate.