Local and National Interest in Principals/School Leaders Rises

October 25th, 2011

Category: News, Policy and Practice

Last week the application was released for the second cohort of the Delaware Leadership Project (DLP), an alternative principal pipeline aimed at training highly effective school leaders and putting them in schools that need them the most (for more on DLP see our previous post and DLP’s  website).

There has been increased national attention focused on the area of principal recruiting and training. Senators Bennet (D-CO), Alexander (D-TN) and Mikulski (D-MD) introduced the bipartisan GREAT Act in June to establish alternative principal preparation programs (in addition to teacher academies). That act made its way via amendment into the ESEA reauthorization bill that passed the HELP committee on October 20. Also in that bill was an amendment proposed by Senator Franken (D-MN) that established an alternative pipeline for principal recruitment and training.

On a state and local level, almost $1.7 million of district Race to the Top plans is geared towards improving the quality of administrators and leaders. Programs like the University of Delaware’s Delaware Academy of School Leadership (DASL) aim to help current principals be more effective leaders of their schools and many districts have hired development coaches to train principals in effective administration of DPAS II, Delaware’s revamped teacher evaluation and support system to be rolled out next year. Delaware’s Vision Network also focuses primarily on training and supporting principals and school leaders in implementing nationally recognized best practices in their schools.

All this comes at a critical time. State and local leaders are realizing that in the next few years they may be a shortfall in the pool of effective and qualified principals available to replace the next wave of retiring school leaders. UD Professor Jeffrey Raffel found in a recent 2011 study that there was an increase this year in districts reporting difficulties hiring a principal (21.1% versus 15.8%). Districts reported that although there were more applicants for open positions, fewer were qualified (10% more applicants, 24.5% qualified vs. 43.3% in 2010); the ratio of qualified applicants to available positions was also halved.

Luckily programs such as DLP are gaining traction and helping to fill the need. The first cohort is already in schools around the state in residencies, working with and shadowing effective principals who are their mentors. Applications for the second cohort have already begun to come in. Innovative Schools, the non-profit organization that operates the Delaware Leadership Project, predicts it will receive at least double the number of applications as they did last year. The deadline to apply is January 20.

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Brian Yin




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