Principal Preparation Guidebook

The George W. Bush Institute Education Reform Initiative has released a new resource for districts, policymakers, and funders based on the initiative’s five-year research collaboration with four school districts.

The newly released Principal Preparation Guidebook, the fourth in a series of guidebooks, provides guidance on how to effectively prepare a strong pool of principal candidates. It is centered on the institute’s Principal Talent Management (PTM) framework, which includes: Principal Preparation, Principal Recruitment and Selection, Principal Supervision, Principal Professional Learning, Principal Performance Evaluation, Principal Compensation and Incentives, and the Working Environment for Principals

The guidebook identifies 12 practices that strong districts enact in the preparation of school leaders:

Create a Career Pathway 

  • Define key leadership roles in the preparation pathway
  • Intentionally recruit diverse and talented individuals into the preparation pathway
  • Deliberately expose assistant principals to the full range of experiences they’ll likely need as principals

Partner with External Program Providers 

  • Understand what external programs exist
  • Collaborate with external providers to improve the quality and alignment of existing programs to district needs and priorities
  • Encourage external providers to offer new programs (if relevant)

Offer High-Quality Internal Leadership Development Experiences 

  • Offer learning opportunities for each step of the preparation pathway
  • Emphasize stretch assignments and coaching instead of sit-and-get workshops 
  • Offer a high-quality residency experience to aspiring principals
  • Align objectives across programs and to the district’s school leadership framework. 

Use Data to Inform Decisions 

  • Use a data system to track information about individuals at each step of the preparation pathway
  • Measure success of external programs and internal experiences with outcome data

Coupled with other guidebooks in this ongoing series, this resource can help districts better attract, support, and retain highly effective principals.

For more, see: