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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What happens when teams from 11 states join a novel effort to promote effective, equity-minded school leadership? Policy ideas and innovative programs. (Wallace Foundation)

Access:  All the Voices:  Statewide Collaborations for School Leadership under ESSA

Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) is a leadership organization that offers deep research and practical guidance, which will help elevate the impact of any building or district leader.

Access:  Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL)

This report calls upon decision makers and funders to value and prioritize principal retention efforts as much as principal pipeline development efforts, which research shows are necessary for the sake of students and schools.

Access: Churn:  The High Cost of Principal Turnover


(April, 2012)  The Wallace Foundation has identified the five practices that give principals "a fighting chance of making a real difference in students."

Access: The Effective Principal:  Five PIvotal Practices that Shape Instructional Leaders

Education Week provides education news, analysis, and opinion that focus on principals and their roles in K-12 schools.

Access:  Education Week's Focus on Principals

Access:  National Association of Elementary School Principals   The national organization for elementary and middle school principals.

A school principal’s role has changed significantly in the last few decades. The management and administrative responsibilities have multiplied with the rise of technology, new legislation requirements, and the pressures of the economy.

Access: Financial Management Functions of the School Principal

Here are five essential but overlooked school principal responsibilities you have to contend with to develop a successful school.

Access: Five Essential but Overlooked Responsibilities of the Principal

Shared by the Wallace Foundation.

Access:  Five Key Responsibilities and Duties - The School Principal as Leader

  • High Schools that Work:   High Schools That Work is the nation's largest school improvement initiative for high school leaders and teachers.
  • Unfinished Business   Contact Lou Howell at for summary of book by Pedro Noguera identifying the structural barriers often put in place by high school staff.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​An effective principal’s impact is stronger and broader than previously thought, making it “difficult to envision” a higher return on investment in K-12 education than the cultivation of high-quality school leadership, according to this research synthesis. Download the full report and/or the executive summary.

Access:  Full Report

Access:  Executive Summary


Peter DeWitt addresses three actions new leaders should consider in the first month of school, and 1 action they should avoid.

Access:  Peter DeWitt - Three Actions New Leaders Should Consider and One Action They Should Avoid

A well-made principal pipeline can benefit schools and students, research has found. So how can school districts go about constructing one?
A study released July 28, 2023, Planning and Developing Principal Pipelines: Approaches, Opportunities, and Challenges, helps answer that. Led by researchers at Vanderbilt University, the study looks at the work of 84 medium- and large-sized districts that joined a Wallace Foundation-sponsored effort—the Principal Pipeline Learning Community—which offered guidance on the development of “comprehensive, aligned principal pipelines.” Such pipelines are “comprehensive” because their seven major parts, or “domains,” cover the range of leadership-strengthening actions districts can take, from setting apt standards for principals to providing them with strong on-the-job supports. The pipelines are “aligned” because their parts reinforce one another, so that, for example, the job supports reflect the job standards.
Through a survey of learning community participants and interviews with central office leaders from the districts that took part, the researchers found that almost all of the districts prioritized equity in their efforts. Nearly 90 percent of survey respondents reported that “building leaders’ skills to improve equity of student experiences and outcomes” and “increasing diversity of school leaders” were medium or high priorities for the use of their pipelines. Few considered these priorities “fully operational” in their pipelines yet, however. 
The researchers also found that the districts worked on enhancing a number of key pipeline domains. Actions included revising and refining the leader standards the districts already had in place and offering new growth opportunities to those aspiring to the principalship. A number of participating districts widened the scope of their leadership work beyond principals to include teacher leaders and assistant principals.
The districts encountered several obstacles to their work, the research found. One was that addressing equity and diversity became difficult when district leaders lacked clarity about goals and when districts found themselves in politically charged climates. Another was that some central office leaders lacked sufficient time to work on pipeline activities.
The report discusses a number of supports and barriers to pipeline development. The establishment of a core team of central office staffers charged with running the pipeline was especially helpful, for example, as was firm backing for the work from the superintendent. Barriers included turnover in the central office among those with key roles in the effort, as well as lack of strong communication between various central office units (from human resources to curriculum and instruction), which stymied the interdepartmental collaboration essential to constructing pipelines.
The authors offer recommendations for other districts interested in creating or bolstering their pipelines. Among them: Consider using pipelines to cultivate principals’ skills in promoting equity and inclusion as well as to develop school leadership roles beyond the principalship.

Access:  Planning and Developing Principal Pipelines: Approaches, Opportunities, and Challenges

Yes, all the other roles and responsibilities of a school principal are important. But a positive school culture is imperative. It is the deliberate decision by the principals I studied to focus their time on creating a positive school culture that enables the other areas (e.g., designing instruction for student success) to also achieve noteworthy outcomes.

Access: The Principal's Role in Successful Schools - Creating a Positive School Culture

"The Principalship Has Changed!  2020 Here We Come!"  Article by Michael Fullan as he addresses the role of the principal in assuring deep learning. 

Access: The Principalship Has Changed!  2020 Here We Come! 

(September, 2012)  The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) created a joint Principal Evaluation Committee to develop this framework for principal evaluation to be used as a guide for improving professional practice that leads to increased student learning. The framework includes six key domains of leadership responsibility that fall within a principal’s sphere of influence.

Access: Rethinking Principal Evaluation - Executive Summary:  A New Paradigm Informed by Research and Practice

(September, 2012)  The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) created a joint Principal Evaluation Committee to develop this framework for principal evaluation to be used as a guide for improving professional practice that leads to increased student learning. The framework includes six key domains of leadership responsibility that fall within a principal’s sphere of influence.

Access: Rethinking Principal Evaluation - Full Report:  A New Paradigm Informed by Research and Practice

The role of the assistant principal has expanded from that of disciplinarian, attendance monitor, and “firefighter” to one that includes staff development, instructional leadership, and curriculum development. Add to this a myriad of responsibilities — activity supervision, scheduling, input on the school calendar, building operations, and other tasks — and one can see that the assistant principal holds essential knowledge of many of the aspects of a school’s functioning, and thus is an invaluable support to an incoming head. The assistant principal can be the hidden anchor that keeps the ship in place during the storm of transition.

Access: The Role of the Assistant Principal in Leadership Transition

All schools require leadership in seven key areas, but how the principal provides that leadership depends on many factors.

Access:  The Roles That Principals Play

Good school leadership is essential to turning around the nation’s failing schools, research has shown. For more than a decade, Wallace has been working with states and school districts to develop better ways to train, hire, support and evaluate principals and other key figures in schools.

Access: School Leadership - Wallace Foundation 

For more than a decade, The Wallace Foundation has supported efforts to improve leadership in public schools. In addition to funding projects in 28 states and numerous school districts within them, Wallace has issued more than 70 research reports and other publications covering school leadership, on topics ranging from how principals are trained to how they are evaluated on the job.

Access: The School Principal as Leader - An Overview of the School Principal Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning

Learning Forward's site for professional learning supports for learning communities, leadership, resources, data, learning designs, implementation, and outcomes.

Access: Standards for Professional Learning

Teachers hoping to advance their careers may ask themselves, “what does a school principal do?” They see their school leaders dispense academic guidance, enforce school rules, and interact with parents, but often don’t know all of the duties of the school principal. It is important to understand the breadth of work a school principal undertakes before deciding if it is the best career path for you.

Access:  What Does a School Principal Do?


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This page was last updated: 6/29/23