Special Report

Who's Ready to Be a Principal?

January 25, 2017
Most of the nation’s 90,000 public school principals start their education careers as teachers. Along the way, most who aspire to the principalship will land in a university-based preparation program. There, they take a series of courses and obtain some in-the-field experience that leads them to the required credentials to become a school leader. But very often, those programs don’t bestow the knowledge and skills that make would-be principals truly ready for the complex job that awaits. Why? For starters, the job has changed dramatically, especially the expectations around what effective principals must be able to do. They must know how to coach teachers to become better at instruction. They must create and maintain a school climate where all students and educators can flourish. And, increasingly, they need to know how to attend to the full array of children’s needs, not just their academic ones. So what are states, school districts, higher education, and alternative programs doing to prepare our future principals for all of this?