The New York City-based Wallace Foundation has announced the launch of a five-year, $75 million initiative designed to help six urban school districts develop qualified principals and determine whether the investment improves student achievement, especially in high-need schools.
Based on ten years of research, the foundation has identified four key components of a "principal pipeline" it believes can be used to develop and ensure the success of a sufficient number of principals to meet school districts' needs: rigorous job requirements, high-quality training, selective hiring, and on-the-job evaluation and support. The initiative will provide participating districts with up to $12.5 million over the next five years to develop, hire, and support effective school principals, with funding from the foundation comprising two-thirds of the total investment; the districts will be required to make up the remaining third as a condition of their grants.
Selected from a pool of ninety candidates, the six districts are Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina; Denver Public Schools in Colorado; Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia; Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida; the New York City Department of Education; and Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland. In the initiative's first phase, Wallace will distribute a total of $21.35 million, including up to $17 million to build the pipeline in the six districts and up to $3.5 million for independent research that will examine the districts' efforts and answer a number of questions.
The foundation also will make additional grants to provide the districts with needed expertise and learning opportunities, including $600,000 to the Education Development Center to work with each district to assess the quality of its leader training programs and $250,000 to the New York City Leadership Academy to help create a "learning community" that will enable participants to exchange ideas, discuss common problems, and engage with evaluators and other experts.
"For the past decade, Wallace and its partners have helped identify objectively what it takes to shape a principal who can improve teaching and learning, especially in troubled city schools," said Wallace Foundation president Will Miller. "We have now selected exemplary urban districts that are well on their way to putting in place the training and support necessary to have enough effective principals for all of their schools. The crucial question these grants and the associated research will explore is: can building a stronger principal pipeline improve teaching quality and student achievement district-wide?"