State lawmakers making school leadership a top priority
- A Florida program that helps military veterans become principals and a Colorado effort to train school turnaround leaders are examples of state legislation passing this year that focuses on school and district administrators, according to a new policy “snapshot” from the Education Commission of the States.
- The Every Student Succeeds Act’s “inclusion of new funding sources for states to invest in leadership, coupled with decades of research identifying the important roles leaders play in student success, have motivated states to look at new ways to support superintendents, principals and other school leaders,” the authors write.
- Their scan of state legislation related to leadership shows 13 laws enacted relating to administrator preparation, leadership and licensure, and 14 relating to induction, mentoring and professional development, such as Alabama’s two-year Principal Mentorship Program. Rhode Island passed a law that keeps an individual administrator’s evaluation private, extending the same protections provided to teachers, and 10 states passed legislation relating to compensation, incentives and contracts.
A report issued this year from New Leaders suggests that states’ growing efforts to develop and retain strong school leaders is a shift away from an era in which “when many states did not recognize the critical role principals and other school leaders play in creating schools where teachers and students thrive, together.”
In addition to emphasizing and supporting principals’ responsibility as instructional leaders, states are also focusing on recruiting leaders who can create environments in which students of color and from low-income families have equal access to effective teachers and who also share the racial and ethnic backgrounds of the students in their schools. Montana State University, for example, runs the Indian Leadership Education Development Project, which recruits, prepares and certifies American Indian educators for administrative positions in schools with large numbers of American Indian students.
States are also creating and expanding teacher leadership initiatives and providing professional development specifically for assistant principals as a way to create stronger principal pipelines, and to ensure that existing principals work with a strong leadership team.
“The best principals do not conduct their critical work alone — they intentionally cultivate and are supported by diverse, talented teams of teacher leaders and other school leaders,” the report says.
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