Developing Effective School Leaders: Perceptions of Participants in a District-led Principal Training Program

Hester, Amanda, Administration and Supervision - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Tucker, Pamela, Leadership, Foundations, and Policy, University of Virginia

The field of education is experiencing a period of increased principal turnover as more than twenty percent of principals are leaving their positions each year due to retirements, changes in positions within the profession, or departures from the profession (Beteille, Kalogrides & Loeb, 2012). As a result, inexperienced leaders who are ill-prepared for the complex demands of the job assume the role of principal with little on-the-job experience. These administrators are hindered by inadequate training and the absence of professional development which promotes the enhancement of critical skills and knowledge essential to being effective school leaders. Given the important role principals play in student achievement and overall school success, it is crucial that school districts re-evaluate how they develop school leaders over a period of time.

The purpose of this research was to serve as a first-step program evaluation of a school leader development program designed to prepare aspiring leaders for the principalship in a mid-Atlantic school district. This study explored the perceptions of participants in the Associate Principal Training Program of Mid-Atlantic Public Schools (MAPS), as well as the mentoring principals with whom they serve. The development of this program was a result of a perceived weak pipeline of future school leaders and an increasing number of principal vacancies. The data collection for this research was two-fold: (a) survey of associate principals and mentoring principals and (b) interviews of three groups (associate principals, mentoring principals, and alumni mentoring principals) from the elementary and secondary school levels. The framework for this study was built upon the concepts of effective school leadership as enumerated in the Interstate School Leader Licensure Consortium (ISLLC, 2008) Standards and successful program elements drawn from empirical studies.

Findings from this study provided insight on the perceptions of the participants in this in-service training program, thus encouraging reflective dialogue regarding the district’s approach to school leader development and will assist in promoting the successful, ongoing professional development of aspiring leaders. As a result of this study, recommendations for future implementation of this training program have been suggested to insure a well-trained pipeline of school leaders for this school district. Overall, the participants agreed that the training program contributed to the development of their skills and knowledge to be effective school leaders. However, the emergent themes of the study resulted in the following recommendations for future implementation of the training program:
1. Clarify the status and priority of the Principal Succession Plan, particularly as it pertains to the role of associate principal.
2. Provide training and professional learning opportunities for mentoring principals to understand the role of the associate principal and how to support this position.
3. Provide consistent, meaningful Quarterly Associate Principal Meetings.
4. Re-evaluate Standard 7’s required activities/experiences.
5. Adjust the Elementary Associate Principal Contract to a 12-month contract.
6. Designate a formal mentor district leader for each associate principal.
7. Establish a University-District Partnership Training Program.

Keywords: principal turnover, principal development, principal training, ISLLC (2008)

EDD (Doctor of Education)
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
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