Revisioning the Principal Supervisor Role

Principals and districts benefit when principal supervisors move beyond the role of administrator to coach and mentor, according to a new Vanderbilt University report.

The report, “A New Role Emerges for Principal Supervisors: Evidence from Six Districts in the Principal Supervisor Initiative,”   details the implementation of five key components to reshape the supervisor position in six large, urban school districts. Each district changed the job descriptions and restructured central offices so that principal supervisors could step away from operational, administrative and compliance tasks to coach, mentor and advise principals to be more effective as instructional leaders.

The six districts are: Broward County Public Schools in Florida; Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland; Cleveland Metropolitan School District in Ohio; Des Moines Public Schools in Iowa; Long Beach Unified School District in California; and Minneapolis Public Schools in Minnesota.

“This new study shows us that school districts participating in the initiative could transform the principal supervisor role into a source of support for principals in leading, teaching and learning,” said Jody Spiro, director of education leadership at The Wallace Foundation. “Principals felt better supported and district culture and central office changed for the better. Importantly, the study also makes clear what is needed to make this change happen.”

Five Components for Restructuring Principal Supervisor Role

  1. Revise supervisor’s job description to focus on instructional leadership.
  2. Reduce the number of principals supervisors oversee.
  3. Provide dedicated professional development.
  4. Redefine the central office’s role and functions.
  5. Develop and cultivate new supervisors.

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