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Strong Pipelines, Strong Principals: A guide for leveraging federal sources to fund principal pipelines

December 1, 2021

A comprehensive, aligned principal pipeline is a systematic approach districts can use to develop and support school principals – one that researchers have termed a feasible, affordable and effective way to improve student achievement. This guide shows how federal funding sources can be used to help cover its cost, which is estimated at less than half a percent of a large district's annual budget.

Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools

April 1, 2019

Six large school districts that built principal pipelines, a set of measures to cultivate effective school leaders, saw notable, statistically significant benefits for student achievement across their communities, according to this groundbreaking report by RAND. After three years, pipeline-district schools with newly placed principals outperformed comparison schools in other districts by more than 6 percentile points in reading and almost 3 percentile points in math, an unusual accomplishment. "We found no other comprehensive district-wide initiatives with demonstrated positive effects of this magnitude on achievement," the authors say.  The pipelines also led to benefits in principal retention, according to the report. After three years, pipeline districts had nearly eight fewer losses for every 100 newly placed principals than the comparison group. This is significant because principal turnover is disruptive to schools and costly, with districts spending an estimated $75,000 to replace a principal. The report presents the results of research that examined the Principal Pipeline Initiative, a six-year effort supported by The Wallace Foundation and launched in the 2011-2012 school year in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.; Denver; Gwinnett County, Ga. (outside Atlanta); Hillsborough County (Tampa), Fla.; New York City; and Prince George's County, Md (outside Washington, D.C.). The "pipeline" refers to four, mutually reinforcing components the districts put in place to seek to boost principal effectiveness: rigorous standards that spell out what their principals are supposed to know and do; high-quality pre-service training for aspiring principals; data-informed hiring; and well-aligned support and evaluation of principals, especially newcomers to the job.

The Principal Pipeline Initiative in Action

October 1, 2016

Strong principals are central to improving schools—indeed, leadership is second only to teaching among school-related factors that influence student achievement. Districts struggle, however, to develop a sufficient pool of highly capable principals. While research has identified strategies that are effective in preparing and supporting school leaders, few districts have pulled together a coherent set of strategies to form a pipeline to the principalship.Recognizing the need to improve the supply of high-quality principals, The Wallace Foundation launched the Principal Pipeline Initiative (PPI) in 2011. The goal was to test the proposition that districts could produce a large cadre of strong novice principals by making a concerted effort to implement a set of interrelated policies and practices, and that doing so would positively affect school outcomes. Participating districts focused on implementing four key components:■ Adopting standards of practice and performance to guide principal preparation, hiring, evaluation, and support■ Improving the quality of preservice preparation for principals■ Using selective hiring and placement practices to match principal candidates with schools■ Implementing on-the-job evaluation and support for novice principals (those in their first three years on the job)Six large districts received multi-year grants of $8.5 million to $13.25 million from the foundation to cover a portion of the start-up costs of developing a principal pipeline. The districts were selected partly because they had already adopted some policies and practices consistent with the PPI components. The foundation also provided technical assistance. The PPI sought not only to institute, grow, and sustain the key components within each participating district, but also to generate examples that other districts might follow.

ExpandED Schools National Demonstration: Lessons for Scale and Sustainability

April 1, 2016

Can schools and community organizations come together to provide children with critical enrichment activities that enhance knowledge and expand horizons beyond core academics during the school day? This report by Policy Studies Associates, Inc., highlights some ways in which they might.The report investigates schools' use of the ExpandED Schools model, which seeks to use partnerships between public schools, community organizations and intermediary organizations to increase enrichment opportunities for children. In the model, regular school staffers focus largely on core academics, while a community-based organization offers enrichment activities during expanded school hours. A third, intermediary organization often coordinates and supports the effort.Researchers studied the use of this model in 10 schools in three cities—New York City, Baltimore and New Orleans—over four years. In this report, they identify the parts of the model that were easiest for the schools to implement, parts that proved more challenging and strategies schools used to overcome hurdles along the way.It finds that the partnerships were generally most successful in adding new activities to an expanded school day and were able to coordinate efforts between school staff and community organizations. But many schools struggled to find reliable sources of funding and to use data to drive programming and instruction.

Evaluating and Supporting Principals

January 1, 2016

This report analyzes the progress of these districts in implementing the fourth key component, evaluation and support systems aligned with the district-adopted standards for leaders. Consistent with the initiative's philosophy that evaluations can be a positive source of guidance for improving practice, districts have agreed to provide novice principals with support tailored to their needs, as identified by evaluations. The ultimate goal of this support—which includes support from supervisors, coaching or mentoring, and professional development—is to strengthen principals' capacity to improve teaching and learning.

Districts Taking Charge of the Principal Pipeline

January 21, 2015

Six urban school districts received support from The Wallace Foundation to address the critical challenge of supplying schools with effective principals. The experiences of these districts may point the way to steps other districts might take toward this same goal. Since 2011, the districts have participated in the Principal Pipeline Initiative, which set forth a comprehensive strategy for strengthening school leadership in four interrelated domains of district policy and practice:Leader standards to which sites align job descriptions, preparation, selection, evaluation, and support.Preservice preparation that includes selective admissions to high-quality programs.Selective hiring, and placement based on a match between the candidate and the school.On-the-job evaluation and support addressing the capacity to improve teaching and learning, with support focused on needs identified by evaluation.The initiative also brought the expectation that district policies and practices related to school leaders would build the district's capacity to advance its educational priorities. The evaluation of the Principal Pipeline Initiative has a dual purpose: to analyze the processes of implementing the required components in the participating districts from 2011 through 2015; and then to assess the results achieved in schools led by principals whose experiences in standards-based preparation, hiring, evaluation, and support have been consistent with the initiative's requirements. This report addresses implementation of all components of the initiative as of 2014, viewing implementation in the context of districts' aims, constraints, and capacity.

Evaluation Summary of the Teagle Foundation's College -Community Connections Initiative

December 1, 2014

Established in 2005 by the Teagle Foundation, the College‐Community Connections (CCC) initiative funds partnerships between New York City community‐based organizations and New York City metropolitan area colleges and universities to help talented and underserved high school students prepare for and succeed in college by engaging them in academically ambitious programs.  Exhibit 1 provides an overview of the CCC partnerships.  

Cultivating Talent through a Principal Pipeline

December 18, 2013

This report, the second in a series, describes early results of Wallace's Principal Pipeline Initiative, a multi-year effort to improve school leadership in six urban school districts. The report describes changes in the six districts' practices to recruit, train and support new principals. It also offers early lessons for other districts considering changes to their own principal pipelines.

Six Districts Begin the Principal Pipeline Initiative

July 8, 2013

This first report of an ongoing evaluation of The Wallace Foundation's Principal Pipeline Initiative describes the six participating school districts' plans and activities during the first year of their grants. The evaluation, conducted by Policy Studies Associates and the RAND Corporation, isintended to inform policy makers and practitioners about the process of carrying out new policies and practices for school leadership and about the results of investments in the Principal Pipeline Initiative. This report is based on collection and analysis of qualitative data, including the districts' proposals, work plans, and progress reports and semi-structured interviews in spring 2012 with 91 administrators employed by districts and their partner institutions. Leaders in all districts report wanting to enlarge their pools of strong applicants for principal positions and to identify and cultivate leadership talent as early as possible in educators' careers.Districts are actively working on allrequired pipeline components: (1) with stakeholder participation, they have developed standards and identified competencies for principals, which they plan to use to guide principal training, hiring, evaluation, and support; (2) they are initiating or strengthening partnerships with university training programs; (3) for hiring, they have standard performance tasks and are developing systems to capture data on candidates' experience; (4) they have diagnostic evaluation tools and are working to build the capacity of principals' supervisors and mentors to support principals' skill development. In addition, all are also bolstering district-run training programs for graduates of university training programs who aspire to become principals.

The Beacon Community Centers Middle School Initiative: Final Report on Implementation and Youth Experience in the Initiative

September 1, 2011

The report evaluates New York City's Beacon Middle School Initiative, which was launched to increase services to middle-grades youth through programs in academics, life skills, career awareness, civic engagement, physical health, and arts and culture. The report describes youth characteristics and participation, program features, connections to school and communities, youth reports of their experiences, and relationships between program characteristics and youth outcomes.

Costs of Participation in the School Administration Manager (SAM) Process

August 31, 2011

Analyzes variations in school districts' implementation costs, by model, of the school administration manager process to help principals increase the time they spend on instructional leadership. Explores funding sources.

Implementation of the National SAM Innovation Project: A Comparison of Project Designs

August 31, 2011

Compares increases in principals' instructional time and other benefits of hiring school administration managers specifically for the position to help principals with time management and of assigning the task to those who hold other school positions.