The Wallace Foundation in New York City has announced the launch of a five-year, $47 million initiative to help universities improve how they prepare future school principals, especially for the nation's highest-need schools.
The University Preparation Program Initiative will fund the redesign of up to six university programs in states with policies supportive of high-quality principal training. Among other things, the initiative will include funding for independent research focused on how universities can develop and implement high-quality courses of study and other supports for effective principal training, and how universities and high-needs school districts can form effective partnerships. Each university will work with up to three school districts to jointly develop the elements essential to effective principal training, including internships and other school-based experiences for aspiring school leaders.
The initiative builds on the findings of a recent synthesis of four Wallace-commissioned studies, Improving University Principal Preparation Programs: Five Themes From the Field, which suggests that educators and policy makers across the nation believe university preparation programs need to be improved. To that end, the effort will pair participating universities with a leading principal-preparation program to help guide their work in key areas such as curriculum redesign and will provide funding support to states that are home to participating universities so that they can review their principal-preparation program policies and determine whether changes to those programs can be implemented statewide. The foundation will announce the names of the participating universities and their district partners in the fall.
"While research has proven that school principals matter significantly to teaching and learning, their preparation has struggled to keep pace with the growing demands of the job," said Wallace Foundation president Will Miller. "Many university programs are looking for ways to raise the bar, and the time is ripe for states to consider broad reform of these programs. We hope this initiative will provide evidence about how to strengthen these programs, as a first step toward eventually creating a new, national evidence-based norm for how principals are prepared, particularly for schools with the greatest challenges."