Impact Evaluation of Support for Principals

Prepared for
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences

School leadership has been receiving increased attention by policymakers in recent years. For example, Race to the Top states have efforts underway related to principal preparation. In addition, between 2011 and 2014, more than $100 million was appropriated to the U.S. Department of Education’s School Leadership Program to support the development, enhancement, or expansion of innovative programs to recruit, train, and mentor school leaders in high-need districts. Finally, one goal of the U.S. Department of Education’s Turnaround School Leaders Program is to provide high-quality training to prepare school leaders to successfully lead turnaround efforts in schools eligible for or receiving School Improvement Grants. Despite this increased attention, research on the effectiveness of these types of supports for principals is limited.

This study seeks to fill that gap. It is designed to provide rigorous evidence on the impact of principal professional development on principal practices, school climate, teacher effectiveness and retention, and student achievement. We conducted a competition to identify the principal professional development provider for the study and selected the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership (CEL). We will randomly assign 100 participating elementary schools within districts to a treatment group whose principals are offered the CEL professional development or to a control group whose principals are not. Beginning in summer 2015, CEL will implement a multi-faceted professional development approach with the 50 treatment group principals, which includes formal group trainings over the summer and school year, ongoing one-on-one coaching, and online supports. We will conduct web surveys of principals and teachers, collect administrative records data, and collect principal time use data via web-based logs.

Subcontractors are the American Institutes for Research, Social Policy Research Associates, and Pemberton Research.

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