K-12 Education

Redefining the Role of the Principal: Innovative Approaches to Empower School Leaders

October 30, 2023  • Education and Society Program

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School leadership ranks among the most influential factors in student learning. Yet, principals contend with complex challenges every day, including teacher shortages, student well-being and safety concerns, resource constraints, and much more. It’s no surprise they are reporting unprecedented levels of job-related stress. To position principals to overcome these obstacles and reach their full potential as leaders, we must adopt a fresh perspective on how they are prepared, supported, and developed.

Our paper examines how five districts and states are empowering principals to focus on the leadership work only they can do—cultivate positive school climates and deliver rigorous academic experiences for every student:

  • Evaluate Principal Readiness Through Authentic Tasks
    Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

  • Increase Principals’ Capacity to Focus on Strategic Priorities
    District of Columbia Public Schools

  • Design Responsive Principal Professional Development
    Cleveland Metropolitan School District

  • Develop Differentiated Professional Learning for Principals
    Long Beach Unified School District

  • Support Principals with Content Specialists
    Tulsa Public Schools

This publication is the second in a series that explores how education leaders can update the role of the principal to better meet the needs of our current context. The first paper, Rethinking the Role of the Principal, outlines six school and district-level shifts to make the principalship more impactful and sustainable. The final paper will examine how policymakers can support the role of the principal.

K-12 Education
Rethinking the Role of the Principal
June 24, 2022 • Education and Society Program