Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way to Improve Schools

Research across the decades has confirmed that effective school leadership is associated with better outcomes for students and schools. A high-quality school leader affects dozens of teachers and hundreds or thousands of students. Congress, recognizing this, permits Every Student Succeeds Act funding to be used to improve school leadership, and Title II-A of the Higher Education Act allows for partnership grants to develop school leadership programs.

A new RAND report finds that implementing “principal pipelines”—a strategic approach to the hiring, preparation, evaluation, and support of school leaders—can improve schools. In this briefing, the report’s lead author, Susan Gates, discusses:

  • Feasibility: Were districts able to implement principal pipelines, and if so, what changed as a result?
  • Effectiveness: What was the overall effect of principal pipelines on key school-level outcomes? How did those effects vary by district and school characteristics?
  • Affordability: Are principal pipelines cost effective?

Learn More

  • A principal meeting with teachers, photo by Claire Holt/The Wallace Foundation

    Principal Pipelines Benefit Students and Reduce Principal Turnover

    Six urban districts implemented principal pipelines, a strategic approach to the hiring, preparation, evaluation, and support of school leaders. The efforts were feasible, affordable, and effective. The schools not only outperformed comparison schools in both math and reading, but they also improved principal retention.

    Apr 8, 2019

  • A mature African-American woman in her 40s standing outside a school building with a group of children carrying backpacks, photo by kali9/Getty Images

    Preparing School Leaders for Success

    The New Leaders program offers rigorous, research-based training for aspiring principals. Students in K-8 schools led by New Leaders principals outperformed students in K-8 schools led by other new principals in test scores and attendance rates. Both participants and district partners expressed favorable views of the program.

    Feb 25, 2019

  • A teacher reading with a student

    What Do Principals Think About Teach For America?

    Principals are generally satisfied with the Teach For America teachers they receive, their classroom contributions, and the professional development and support the program provides.

    Jan 17, 2018