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Leadership Development


**Kearney, K. (2010). Effective principals for California schools: Building a coherent leadership development system. San Francisco, CA: WestEd. Available at

This report provides of an overview of each stage—aspiring, candidate, developing, and expert— of the leadership pipeline. For each stage, the author reviews research to provide an overview of existing practices and challenges, and offers suggestions for state and local stakeholders. The author urges a more concerted effort be made in California to focus on effective principal development via established standards of principal quality, coordinated and articulated professional development, and the collection of information on existing practices in the state to determine what gaps in the state’s leadership development infrastructure exist, all to increase school and student success.

District Examples

Overview of Fresno Unified School District/California State University leadership preparation program. Not available online. Not available online.

Provided here is a short description of Fresno Unified School District’s leadership development program, offered in partnership with California State University, Fresno.

 The Long Beach Unified Middle School PLC Structure. (2011, June). Prepared for the Aspen Critical Friends Visit to Long Beach Unified School District. Not available online.

 This document provides an overview of Long Beach Unified School District’s (LBUSD) professional learning community (PLC) established in the 2009-10 school year for persistently low-achieving middle schools. The strategy focuses on raising accountability while increasing support to schools through provision of coaches and additional resources. The middle school PLC structure has increased problem-solving interaction among the participating principals and a focus on data from assistant principals in order to allow principals more time to spend in classrooms.

 Talbert, J., et al. (2009, October). Leadership development and school reform through the scaffold apprenticeship model (SAM). Stanford University: Center for Research on the Context of Teaching. Available at

New York City implemented the Scaffolded Apprenticeship Model (SAM)—a program of school inquiry teams comprised of teacher leaders to lead evidence-based school reform. This study first describes SAM’s theory of change for how collaborative, evidence-based learning and distributed leadership practices can support continuous school improvement. The authors then discuss the experiences of SAM participants and provide a case study of one school, drawing key lessons for practitioners and implications for further research. In short, the study finds that when implemented well, SAM fostered a culture of assessment use and resulted in increased numbers of students on track to graduate. However, the authors caution that successful implementation requires high-quality coaching support and strong principal leadership.

Fink, E. & Resnick, L. B. (2001, April). Developing principals as instructional leaders. Phi Delta Kappan, 82(8), 598-606. Available at

This paper provides an overview of a successful principal development and support model used by Community School District 2 in New York City. The authors first discuss how the role of principals has expanded to include a much greater emphasis on being an instructional leader who is well versed in curriculum and comfortable modeling instruction in classrooms. To equip its principals with the necessary skills to be effective instructional leaders, Community School District 2 implemented a cognitive apprenticeship model of continual learning. The authors describe this principal development program, including the monthly principal conferences to establish a shared vision of what learning opportunities school should provide, problem-sharing support groups for new principals, principal inter-visitation, and individualized coaching from the superintendent and other central office staff.

**This document is considered a priority reading.