Challenges and Opportunities Facing Principals in the First Year at a School
Feb 23, 2012
Principals new to their school face a variety of challenges that can influence their likelihood of improving their schools' performance and their likelihood of remaining the principal. The authors present research on first-year principals' experiences, actions, working conditions, and outcomes. The research is intended to inform efforts to promote school improvement and principal retention.
How Actions and Working Conditions Relate to Outcomes
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Principals new to their school face a variety of challenges that can influence their likelihood of improving their schools' performance and their likelihood of remaining the principal. Understanding the actions that principals take and the working conditions they face in the first year can inform efforts to promote school improvement and principal retention, but the research on first-year principals' experiences is limited. This report examines the actions and perceived working conditions of first-year principals, relating information on those factors to subsequent school achievement and principal retention. The study is based on multiple sources of data that were collected to support the RAND Corporation's seven-year formative and summative evaluation of New Leaders. New Leaders is an organization that recruits, selects, prepares, and supports school leaders to serve in urban schools. The authors found that (1) over one-fifth of new principals leave within two years, and those placed in schools that failed to meet adequate yearly progress targets are more likely to leave; (2) there were no strong relationships among principals' time allocation, student achievement, and retention; (3) teacher capacity and cohesiveness were the school and district conditions most strongly related to student outcomes; (4) principals' reported future plans were not strongly related to retention.
Experiences and Outcomes of First-Year Principals
This work was sponsored by New Leaders. The research was conducted in RAND Education, a unit of the RAND Corporation.
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