Reading Preparation of Principals: A Review of U.S. Initial Principal Licensure Requirements

Lovette, Gail E., Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
McKenna, Michael, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Leadership is second only to classroom instruction in its impact on student achievement, but the fact that more than half of U.S. fourth and eighth graders are reading below proficient levels underscores the urgency of identifying the essential qualities of such leadership. Among these qualities is the principal’s knowledge of reading, which has a documented relationship to reading achievement. Accordingly, professional organizations are citing the need for principals with deep reading knowledge to effectively lead the significant school-wide literacy initiatives demanded by the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in nearly all states. This study describes the current status of reading knowledge requirements for initial educational administration licensure in 51 state education agencies (SEAs): 50 states and the District of Columbia. Using deductive content analysis, current published educational rules and regulations along with mandated assessment materials were analyzed for reading knowledge requirements for initial principal licensure in 51 SEAs. Of these, only four required varying degrees of reading knowledge for initial licensure for administrators: Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Missouri. None of the required examinations utilized in any of the 51 SEAs for initial principal licensure assessed reading knowledge. Implications of the disparity between the importance of a principal’s reading knowledge and the widespread failure to require it for licensure are discussed.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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