School & District Management

Licensing Exam for Principal Candidates Unveiled

By Bess Keller — May 06, 1998 2 min read

The Educational Testing Service last week unveiled a new licensure exam for principals that it developed as part of a broad effort to evaluate prospective school leaders.

Four states--Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina--and the District of Columbia have adopted the six-hour test, said Neil J. Shipman, project director of the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium. The consortium, a 23-state group on licensing school leaders, worked with the ETS to create the test. (“New Exam for Would-Be Principals Provides States a Tool for Licensing,” Nov. 5, 1997.)

Officials attending a press conference here said they expect 12 to 15 states to give the exam within five years.

“This test measures the skills needed for entry-level professionals to perform competently on this job,” said Sharon Robinson, a senior vice president and the chief operating officer for Princeton, N.J.-based ETS.

Currently, 35 states require no tests for prospective principals. Of the rest, most give a multiple-choice test developed by the ETS.

The new exam calls for written responses to real-world situations and “centers on candidates’ ability to inspire and lead good instruction,” said Gordon M. Ambach, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which organized the licensure consortium.

Vote of Confidence

The test reflects national standards for school leaders set by the consortium in cooperation with national groups representing principals, school boards, and schools of education.

Nearly two out of three Americans strongly favor testing aspiring principals to weed out ones who don’t know how to boost student achievement, according to a poll released here last week in concert with the formal unveiling of the licensure exam.

Commissioned by the ETS and the state chiefs’ group, the poll reached a sample of 1,013 Americans by telephone last month. The margin of error was 3 percentage points. Most Americans apparently welcome a principals’ test, the results show. Fewer than 15 percent oppose the idea, and support was about equally strong among those with children in school and those without.

More than half of those polled agreed that testing new principals before they are licensed is about as important as testing prospective teachers. Another 22 percent said it was more important.

Stephen D. Young, the principal of New Hope-Solebury High School in New Hope, Pa., who worked on the test’s content, praised the assessment.

“It reflects the consortium’s standards,” he said. “It is challenging, and it promotes the public welfare by setting higher entry standards for the profession.”

The exam, which costs $450, will be scored by school administrators trained by the ETS. Candidates will either pass or fail, with the minimum score set for each state by authorities there.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Strategies & Tips for Complex Decision-Making
Schools are working through the most disruptive period in the history of modern education, facing a pandemic, economic problems, social justice issues, and rapid technological change all at once. But even after the pandemic ends,

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Cash for Shots? Districts Take New Tacks to Boost Teacher Vaccinations
In order to get more school staff vaccinated, some district leaders are tempting them with raffles, jeans passes, and cash.
8 min read
Illustration of syringe tied to stick
School & District Management National Teachers' Union President: Schools Must Reopen 5 Days a Week This Fall
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten wants five days a week of in-person school next fall.
4 min read
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, talks during a news conference in front of the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching on Sept. 8, 2020.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, talks during a news conference in front of the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching on Sept. 8, 2020.
Mark Lennihan/AP
School & District Management Principals and Stress: Strategies for Coping in Difficult Times
Running schools in the pandemic has strained leaders in unprecedented ways. Principals share their ideas for how to manage the stress.
6 min read
Illustration of calm woman working at desk
School & District Management Wanted: Superintendents to Lead Districts Through the End of a Pandemic
Former superintendents say there are signs when it's time to move on. Their replacements are more likely to be greenhorns, experts say.
4 min read
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner speaks at a news conference at the school district headquarters in Los Angeles on March 13, 2020. Beutner will step down as superintendent after his contract ends in June, he announced Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
Austin Beutner, the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified, will step down after his contract ends in June.
Damian Dovarganes/AP