Apr 8, 2019
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. It is a pivotal role.
From 2011 to 2016, The Wallace Foundation, through its Principal Pipeline Initiative (PPI), provided funding and technical assistance to support six large school districts in their efforts to put in place systematic processes for the strategic management of school leaders. The purpose was to examine whether a comprehensive principal pipeline would be more effective than business-as-usual approaches to the preparation and management of school leaders. The term principal pipeline is shorthand for the range of talent management activities that fall within a school district's scope of responsibility when it comes to school leaders, including leader standards, preservice preparation opportunities for assistant principals and principals, selective hiring and placement, and on-the-job induction, evaluation, and support.
This report documents what the PPI districts were able to accomplish, describing the implementation of the PPI and its effects on student achievement, other school outcomes, and principal retention. The authors found that all six PPI districts were able to implement comprehensive pipelines, and they did so in different ways. The PPI had positive effects on a wide range of outcomes that school districts care about, and evidence of these positive effects was widespread. The authors also found that the work is affordable: It cost a PPI district about $42 per pupil per year, or less than 0.5 percent of the district's budget in each school year, to operate and enhance its principal pipeline. The authors conclude that districts looking for ways to enhance school outcomes and improve the retention of newly placed principals should be encouraged by the experiences of PPI districts. The findings of this study suggest that when districts focused attention on activities related to principal pipelines, then principals, schools, and students benefited.
Implementation of the Principal Pipeline Initiative
Effects of the Principal Pipeline Initiative
Discussion and Recommendations
Supplementary Tables and Figures
Return on Investment