Preparing to Lead: Lessons in Principal Development for High Performing Education Systems

Of all in-school influences on student learning, leadership is second only to teaching quality. Indeed, when it comes to whole-system improvement, some argue that improving the quality of school leadership is a higher strategic priority than improving the quality of individual teachers, due to a principal’s influence across a school.

While school leadership is routinely recognized as a key indicator for improving student achievement, there is less certainty around ways to develop outstanding school leaders at the scale required for whole-system improvements. Most systems of education have some form of training and development for school leaders.

The best systems, however, treat these programs within a leadership development continuum that includes recruitment of promising candidates, rigorous initial training and ongoing training and support with opportunities for advancement.

A new report from the National Center on Education and the Economy focuses on how four high-performing systems of education designed and deliver high-quality leadership development programs for aspiring principals. While these systems have a strategic, system-wide approach that positions programs within the broader continuum of leadership development, this report focuses on programs that prepare aspiring principals for their future roles and responsibilities.

To read the full report, see: