$47 Million To Develop Principled Principals

The Wallace Foundation has launched a $47-million, four-year initiative to improve the training of school principals. Seven universities and their corresponding state and district partners have been selected to participate in the initiative, which will be geared toward improving university principal-preparation programs and analyzing state policies to see whether higher-quality training can be better encouraged statewide.

During a fifth year, and through earlier reports, an independent study conducted by the RAND Corporation will record findings to be shared nationwide with policymakers and practitioners.

The New York City-based foundation, which focuses on learning and enrichment for disadvantaged students, selected university programs that service districts with a high number of disadvantaged students. The seven participating universities are:

* Albany State University – Albany, Ga.;
* Florida Atlantic University – Boca Raton, Fla.;
* North Carolina State University – Raleigh, N.C.;
* San Diego State University – San Diego, Calif;
* University of Connecticut – Storrs, Conn.;
* Virginia State University – Petersburg, Va.; and,
* Western Kentucky University – Bowling Green, Ky.

“The more we talk with education leaders no matter at what level of the education system, from state to university to district, the more we hear it is the right time to conduct a university-focused initiative like this,” said Jody Spiro, director of education leadership at Wallace, in a release. “We are seeking to learn how these seven universities accomplish their program redesign as an important first step in improving how principals are prepared for the demanding job of leading school improvement across the country.”

Four in five district superintendents are dissatisfied with the quality of principal-preparation programs, a Wallace-commissioned study revealed. The program is intended to address the concern that university programs have not kept pace with growing demands on principals and move from a focus on building management to instructional support. Foundation leaders’ goal for the initiative is to develop approaches focused on evidence-based policies in three primary areas:

* Building and implementing high quality course study with on-the-job experiences;
* Creating strong university-district partnerships; and,
* Developing state policies around program accreditation, principal licensure or certification, and like matters to promote more effective training.

The participating universities, along with state and district partners, will receive a combined first-year total of $15.5 million from the foundation. Each university will receive redesign guidance from a principal-preparation program, university or nonprofit, that is known for its training. The universities will also each be partnered with three school districts that hire its graduates in an effort to both ensure that the redesigned programs meet local needs and develop local training elements.

Local partners receiving funding include state education departments and professional standards boards. Funding will go toward the review of policies pertaining to university-based principal training to determine if changes, such as program accreditation or principal licensure or certificate requirements would encourage more effective preparation programs statewide.

“We know from research that school principals require excellent training with high-quality, practical experiences to become effective leaders-but most are simply not getting this,” said Will Miller, president of The Wallace Foundation. “Because many school districts don’t have the capacity to train as many principals as they need or to train future principals at all, the best way to reach more aspiring school leaders is through the university programs that typically provide needed certification. We are confident that the selected universities want to raise the bar for their programs, work in partnership with their local school districts and serve as models for other universities.”