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Growing need for principal supervisors indicates schools will rely on strong leadership, training

principal-supervisorsThe results of a two-part study indicate that school districts will increasingly rely on principal supervisors to guide school principals through important transitions such as school reform efforts and Common Core implementation.

According to “Rethinking Leadership: The Changing Role of Principal Supervisors,” principal supervisors usually oversee a large number of school principals in addition to handling other administrative oversight responsibilities, and principal supervisors oversee 24 schools each, on average. The study was commissioned by the Wallace Foundation and released by the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS).

Those principal supervisors’ strengths should line up with the needs of the schools they supervise, the report’s authors write, but that doesn’t always happen–instead, most principal supervisors and schools are paired according to geographic locations so that school visits are more convenient.

(Next page: 9 steps to help principal supervisors)“It’s clear that it will take much more than training to help these leaders become more effective. Districts need to build systems that limit supervisors’ competing responsibilities and that do a better job matching supervisors with schools so they can support all of the principals they oversee,” said Jody Spiro, director of education leadership at The Wallace Foundation.

Many principal supervisors are former principals, but not all of them have experience as central office instructional administrators, according to the report. Professional development to help principal supervisors better develop their own skills will in turn help them guide school principals.

“Districts should think carefully about how the work of principal supervisors is connected to the district’s major reform initiatives and overall vision for change,” said CGCS Executive Director Michael Casserly. “In the context of the Common Core State Standards, for example, principal supervisors provide a critical link between central office leadership and resources and building-level personnel.”

Here’s how some principal supervisors might be able to leverage technology to balance busy schedules and to stay connected with their principals.

The report recommends that districts:

  1. Define and clearly communicate throughout the organization the role and required competencies of principal supervisors.
  2. Narrow principal supervisor responsibilities and spans of control.
  3. Strategically select and deploy principal supervisors, matching skills and expertise to the needs of schools.
  4. Provide principal supervisors with the professional development and training they need to assume new instructional leadership roles.
  5. Establish information-sharing policies or procedures to ensure clear lines of communication and collaboration between principal supervisors and central office staff.
  6. Provide early and sustained support to new principals in the form of coaches.
  7. Hold principals—and principal supervisors—accountable for the progress of their schools, and ensure alignment in the processes and measures used to assess teacher, principal, and principal supervisor performance.
  8. Provide clear, timely, and actionable evaluation data to principals.
  9. Commit district resources and engage external partners in the process

of developing future school and district leaders.

The Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of large urban public school systems that includes a superintendent and school board member from each member city.

The Wallace Foundation is a national philanthropy organization that works to improve education for disadvantaged children through school leadership, after school programs, the arts and arts education, and summer and expanded learning time.

Be sure to check out our Connected Educator Month site to learn about how technology can help administrators, including principals and principal supervisors, stay in touch and in-the-know.

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Laura Ascione

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