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Effective principals reach all corners of education

principal-leadershipStrong leadership is essential to any school’s success, and school principals play a vital role in ensuring teachers and students are successful in the classroom.

With strong and flexible leadership, teachers say they feel they have freedom to explore new teaching techniques and approaches.

Principals who foster positive school cultures see the returns of such efforts in student achievement, engagement, and teacher satisfaction.

In one survey compiled in a new infographic, 69 percent of teachers who said they have effective principals said they felt it was important to put in their best effort, while only 38 percent of teachers reporting unhelpful or ineffective principals said they felt the same.

(Next page: More data about principals’ impact in schools)

More than half (55 percent) of teachers with helpful principals said they have high instances of cooperation or collaboration among the building staff. Just 20 percent of teachers reporting principals who offered little or no help felt the same.

Schools in which principals implemented positive behavioral interventions and support sent 56 percent fewer students to the office–2.5 per day compared to 5.7 per day.

When it comes to achievement, effective principals account for 25 percent of a school’s impact on student performance gains. Teachers account for 33 percent, and studies show that teachers are more effective when they feel supported by their leaders.

In fact, one Texas study revealed that having an effective school principal was equivalent to anywhere between 2-7 months of additional learning per year.

High-achieving schools are 50 percent more likely to have the same principal for six or more years.

Research predicts that there will be a 10 percent projected demand increase for principals over 10 years, with 89,700 job openings by 2020.

Almost three-quarters of school superintendents say they have experienced at least some shortage of qualified principal candidates.

Sometimes, fewer than half of applicants for vacancies meet the minimum interview criteria, and of all those hired, just 1 in 5 meet all expectations.

Recent reports and studies have pinpointed strategies for helping principals succeed–which, in turn, can result in empowered teachers and increased student achievement.

Matching principals’ skills with schools’ specific needs, giving principals the autonomy to lead schools while still supporting them with district leadership, considering principal evaluation systems, and striving to give school leaders the resources they need to effect change are four recommendations from a 2013 RAND Corporation report.

And in February, the Wallace Foundation announced a $24 million, five-year project intended to fund increased training and support for principal supervisors in six large urban districts. The project is accompanied by a parallel $2.5 million study that aims to discover if and how giving principal supervisors additional support will create more effective school leaders.

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Laura Ascione

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