Factoring Principals Into School Improvement
Policymakers rarely focus on the role of the school principal when examining ways to improve public education. Yet research shows that, next to the teacher, the principal has the strongest influence on student learning, particularly in high-poverty schools.
Over the past decade, principals have been publicly called upon to take the lead in school improvement and turnaround—often with little policy support or guidance.
“When we talk about improving schools and education, principals must be part of the equation,” says Karen Kearney, Senior Program Associate for the California Comprehensive Center at WestEd. “It’s ‘teachers, plus principals, plus superintendents, equals school improvement.’ An ‘either-or’ formula will not work.”
A former building principal, Kearney recognizes the consequences of assuming that effective school leadership will “just happen.” That’s why she has played a pivotal role in shaping and sustaining California’s Integrated Leadership Development Initiative (ILDI), an unusual collaboration of public and private agencies.
ILDI is designed to upgrade the preparation, licensure, and career development of principals. This initiative is forging new inter-organizational alliances to serve the long-term objective of developing effective leaders for every school in the state.
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