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California Context

**Loeb, S. & Valant, J. (2009, September). Leaders for California’s schools. Policy Brief 09-4. Palo Alto, CA: Policy Analysis for California Education. Available at

This policy brief provides an overview of the state of the principalship in California. According to the authors, while high-quality leadership is important in improving student achievement, obstacles exist in recruiting, training, and retaining these principals. First, recruiting obstacles include excessive workloads, low principal-teacher pay differentials, and the lack of a systematic identification and recruitment process for potential principals. Obstacles to training include variation in the quality of pre-service training programs and few opportunities for ongoing professional development, particularly targeted to individual needs. Finally, obstacles to retention include a lack of perceived autonomy from principals and additional demands required of principals in high-needs schools. The brief concludes with recommendations for state policymakers to improve these current challenges, such as strengthening state oversight of pre- and in-service leadership training programs.

The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. (2009). Strengthening California’s system for preparing and supporting principals: Lessons from exemplary programs. Santa Cruz, CA: Author. Available at

This brief reviews the state of California’s current principal training and credentialing system, presents lessons learned from exemplary leadership development programs, and discusses implications for how California might improve principal preparation, recruitment, and retention. Using data from a national principal survey, the brief first compares California principals to principals in other states on various factors such as experience, demographics, participation in professional development activities, and approach to data usage. In particular, California principals were much more likely than their counterparts to have begun their pre-service trainings after becoming principals as well as far less likely to have participated in an internship or principal network. The brief then provides characteristics of exemplary professional credentialing and professional development systems found across studies of systems in other states such as field-based internships in pre-service programs. The brief concludes with recommendations for state policymakers to gather information on the status of education leadership to motivate and inform improvements in pre-service programs and assessments, recruitment, mentorship and professional development.

**This document is considered a priority reading.