Using State-Level Policy Levers to Promote Principal Quality

Using State-Level Policy Levers to Promote Principal Quality

A new report from the RAND Corporation explores several things that state policy makers can do to improve the effectiveness of school principals. Commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, the report, Using State-level Policy Levers to Promote Principal Quality: Lessons from Seven States Partnering with Principal Preparation Programs and Districts (141 pages, PDF), identifies seven key "levers" that policy makers can use: establishing standards for the job; recruiting aspiring candidates into the profession; licensing new and veteran principals; approving and overseeing principal preparation programs; supporting professional development for principals; evaluation of principals; and using leader tracking systems to support analysis of aspiring and established school leaders' experiences and outcomes. The report outlines the policy actions that seven states participating in the Wallace Foundation's University Principal Preparation Initiative have taken with regard to six of the seven levers, and notes that none had developed a leader tracking system. The study also found that the use of such levers is influenced by the nature of the principal pathway — the process through which an aspiring school leader becomes a fully fledged principal — in each state, with opportunities for policy action at various stages of the pathway.