Principals’ Approaches to Developing Teacher Quality

Principals arguably play the most important role in ensuring that excellent teaching occurs in their school. Principals’ Approaches to Developing Teacher Quality: Constraints and Opportunities in Hiring, Assigning, Evaluating and Developing Teachers by The Center for American Progress and The Education Trust provides key findings from a study of 30 principals working in charter and conventional schools in two northeastern states. In doing so, it aims to inform policymakers regarding how principals could exert a more positive influence on teacher quality.

Findings suggest that policymakers would be wise to address four major barriers to principals’ ability to improve teaching quality in their schools:

  • Economic influences
  • Contractual limitations
  • Interpersonal challenges
  • Cultural impediments

Additionally, policymakers should address:

  • Rethinking resources for professional development and teacher compensation. State and district policymakers should consider supporting bonuses and salary increments to help attract and retain teachers to remote regions, hard-to-staff schools, and shortage assignments. They should also improve the quality of professional development and reduce its dependence on unreliable funding sources. This may involve rethinking the way districts and schools currently use professional development dollars.
  • Decreasing contractual limitations to raising teacher quality. State and district policymakers should work with union leaders to ensure that seniority does not govern important personnel decisions at the expense of other important considerations such as the quality of a teacher’s instruction. This change should be balanced by the introduction of greater career opportunities and rewards for individuals who have dedicated their life’s work to teaching. They should also work to ensure that teacher evaluation systems reflect teachers’ typical instruction.
  • Reducing cultural and interpersonal impediments to efforts to raise teaching quality. Policymakers should address principal preparation and in-service training to ensure that principals develop an ability to act strategically as human capital managers. In particular, principals need to develop vital skills in how to assess instruction and communicate effectively regarding instructional quality.

The report may be accessed here:

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