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Principals for the 21st Century

Leadership Qualities

**The Wallace Foundation (2012, January). The school principal as a leader: Guiding schools to better teaching and learning. New York, NY: Author. Available at

This report synthesizes findings from several studies that examine the impact of principal leadership on student learning, noting that, after classroom instruction, no other school-related factor has had a greater impact on student achievement. The report then presents five key responsibilities of the principal: 1) setting high expectations for student achievement; 2) creating a cooperative, positive educational environment; 3) fostering involvement and leadership from teachers; 4) improving the quality of instruction; and 5) managing the people, data, and processes of the school. The report concludes with a brief discussion of how districts can cultivate and support school leaders to meet these five responsibilities, such as establishing a culture of supporting principals to improve instruction.

National Association of Elementary School Principals. (2008). Leading learning communities: Standards for what principals should know and be able to do. Second Edition. Alexandria, VA: Author. (Executive summary.) Available at

This piece examines the evolving and increasingly complex role of principals—which requires a greater emphasis on the whole child, an increased ability to use data, and greater needs to bridge gaps between school and the community—in the context of a changing global economy. In line with this evolving role, this executive summary discusses six standards for what principals should know and be able to do including: 1) exhibit learner-centered leadership; 2) maintain high expectations and standards for all students; 3) demand content and instruction aligned with standards; 4) promote a culture of adult learning that compliments student learning and school goals; 5) use a number diagnostic tools and data sources to increase effective instruction; and 6) activity engage parent, family and community engagement. 

Leadership Standards: Three Examples

**California professional standards for educational leaders. (2004). San Francisco, CA: WestEd & Association of California School Administrators. Available at

The California Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (CPSEL) are six benchmarks of quality practices for school and district leaders. This document outlines the standards along with indicators of actions and behaviors that contribute to meeting each standard. Upon adopting CPSEL, which was adapted from the national Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium Standards for School Leaders, the state stipulated that all pre-service programs for school leaders be aligned with the CPSEL in order to retain accreditation.

**Fresno Unified School District. (2006, December). Standards for Fresno Unified leadership. Fresno, CA: Author. Not available online.

This document presents six leadership standards, developed by Fresno Unified School District, for school and central office leaders. The standards include: 1) skillful supervision and evaluation, 2) using evidence to improve instruction, 3) decision making/managing change, 4) appropriately allocating resources (time, money, people, materials, facilities), 5) effective communication, and (for central office staff) 6) service to sites. The district uses these standards in their current evaluation of leaders.

**KIPP: Leadership framework and competency model. (n.d.). Brooklyn, NY: KIPP. Available at

The Knowledge is Power Program’s (KIPP) Leadership Framework and Competency Model describes research-based attributes considered important for school and district leadership. The model is organized into four categories; an effective leader: 1) drives results, 2) builds relationships, and 3) manages people, with the fourth cross-cutting category—proving the possible—placing students at the center of all the work. Within each of the categories, the document outlines key behaviors that demonstrate what actions a leader must take to excel in that area. For instance, within the “build relationships” category, the document lists specific behaviors around stakeholder management, communication, impact and influence, self-awareness, and cultural competence. Finally, the framework recognizes that there are also role-specific competencies (e.g., instructional leadership, operations management) that build on the four core competencies but are tailored to one’s individual job.

Conditions for Effective Leaders

Bottoms G., & Fry, B. (2009). The district leadership challenge: Empowering principals to improve teaching and learning. Atlanta, GA: Southern Regional Education Board. (Executive summary). Available at

This article discusses the results of interviews with 22 principals in high- and low-performing high schools to learn more about how relationships between the central office and high schools can magnify or diminish the principal’s capacity to improve student learning. The authors find that principals at the most-improved high schools experienced a collaborative working relationship with the district. In the least-improved high schools, the researchers found most reform initiatives to be centralized at the district office. Furthermore, these principals felt that district leaders did not focus on empowering and building the capacity of school leaders. The authors conclude with suggestions for how district leaders can collaborate with and empower principals to lead change.

**This document is considered a priority reading.