Cover: State Partnerships with University Principal Preparation Programs

State Partnerships with University Principal Preparation Programs

A Summary of Findings for State Policymakers (Volume 3, Part 5)

Published Jun 20, 2022

by Susan M. Gates, Rebecca Herman, Elaine Lin Wang


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Research Questions

  1. How did state education organizations contribute to UPPI?
  2. How can state policymakers help improve principal preparation programs?

The job of the school principal has become much more complex and demanding over the past several decades. Many university-based principal preparation programs — which prepare the majority of school principals — have struggled with how to make the fundamental changes needed to prepare principals for today's schools. To test a path forward, The Wallace Foundation provided grants to seven universities and their partners to redesign their principal preparation programs in line with research-supported practices. This targeted report shares findings from the RAND Corporation's five-year study of The Wallace Foundation's University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI), with an emphasis on findings for state policymakers.

Key Findings

  • State education agencies used policy levers in varied ways to promote principal preparation program redesign.
  • Coherence across policies — grounded in leader standards — emerged as a best practice.
  • States mainly aimed to support rather than mandate change.
  • States contributed to a culture of collaboration across the principal preparation system.
  • State organizations leveraged their authority to support program-district partnerships.


  • Promote coherence by applying clear state leader standards, and by providing information and resources that promote the implementation and use of standards.
  • When using mandates that affect principal preparation programs, states should ensure that they are evidence-based and come with the support needed for the program to achieve the mandated change.

Research conducted by

This study was commissioned by The Wallace Foundation and undertaken by RAND Education and Labor.

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