Education Drivers

Principal Needs Analysis

All aspects of school principal recruitment, selection, development, and support must be driven by a continual assessment of the current and projected needs of each school. This needs assessment should identify current and projected openings (driven by principal mobility and turnover), the types of school placements with openings (grade levels, start-up, turnaround), and the experience levels of current school principals. Each year, more than 25,000 school principals (22% of all principals) leave their schools to move to another school (5.9%), leave the profession altogether (11.5%) or leave their positions for other reasons (4.6%). The data also show a demographic bubble of school principals nearing retirement, 36,220 (32%) 55 years or older, likely increasing the need. Additionally, 42% (47,960) have less that 3 years’ experience, a key factor as research suggests it takes at least 3 years to learn the job and an average of 5 years to impact a school’s performance positively. All of these numbers are significantly worse for low-performing, high-poverty schools. Overall, the data suggest a significant need for effective school principals.

Data Mining

How do education administration graduate candidates compare with students in other fields?
This analysis examines school principal entry qualifications as compared to other graduate fields of study.
States, J. (2014). How do education administration graduate candidates compare with students in other fields? Retrieved from how-do-education-administration.
Burnout: Testing for the validity, replication, and invariance of causal structure across elementary, intermediate, and secondary teachers

The study investigated the impact of organizational and personality factors on three facets of burnout—Emotional Exhaustion, Depersonalization, and reduced Personal Accomplishment within one conceptual framework. 

Byrne, B. M. (1994). Burnout: Testing for the validity, replication, and invariance of causal structure across elementary, intermediate, and secondary teachers. American Educational Research Journal31(3), 645–673.

Evidence-based kernels: Fundamental units of behavioral influence

This paper describes evidence-based kernels, fundamental units of behavioral influence that appear to underlie effective prevention and treatment for children, adults, and families. The paper describes 52 of these kernels, and details practical, theoretical, and research implications, including calling for a national database of kernels that influence human behavior.

Embry, D. D., & Biglan, A. (2008). Evidence-based kernels: Fundamental units of behavioral influence. Clinical child and family psychology review11(3), 75-113.

Learning from Leadership Project: Review of research How leadership influences student learning

This report examines the evidence on: How leadership matters and how important those effects are in promoting the learning of all children.

Leithwood, K., Seashore Louis, K., Anderson, S., & Wahlstrom, K. (2004). Review of research: How leadership influences student learning.

A Guide to Calculating District Expenditure-to-Performance Ratios Using Publicly Available Data

Efficient use of educational resources is a perennial challenge for school systems. Maximizing the impact of education interventions to magnify student achievement is an important goal for all school districts. This guide examines the use of expenditure-to-performance ratios as a critical indicator for school systems to help decide which interventions make sense when education dollars are at a premium. It describes how states and districts can use available data on district expenditures and student academic achievement to calculate six district-level expenditure-to-performance ratios.


Ryan, S., Lavigne, H. J., Zweig, J. S., & Buffington, P. J. (2017). A guide to calculating district expenditure-to-performance ratios using publicly available data. (REL 2017-179). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands.


Reading Comprehension Tests Don’t Test Reading

In this video from Cool Reading Facts, Daniel Willingham, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, discusses significant factors key to success in reading comprehension. His analysis suggests that educators frequently miss the critical role that basic knowledge plays in successfully interpreting and understanding passages in reading texts and that reading comprehension tests are actually knowledge tests in disguise. He makes three important points: (1) Students must have the basic decoding skills to translate print into meaningful information, (2) having a basic familiarity with the subject matter is of prime importance in comprehending what the writer is trying to communicate, and (3) providing students with an enriched knowledge base through the school’s curriculum is especially important for students from disadvantaged circumstances, whose only source of essential background information often is school. In contrast, children from privileged circumstances may be introduced to essential background information away from school.

Willingham, D. (2017). Cool Reading Facts 5: Reading comprehension tests don’t test reading [Video file]. National Public Radio, Science Friday Educator Collaborative.

The Making of the Principal-Five Lessons in Leadership Training
This Wallace Perspective plumbs foundation research and work in school leadership to identify five lessons for better training, including: more selective admission to training programs, a focus on instructional leadership and mentoring for new principals.
Mitgang, L. (2012). The Making of the Principal: Five Lessons in Leadership Training. Perspective. Wallace Foundation.
Leadership for student learning: Reinventing the principalship
This paper makes the argument that current models for school principal leadership and management must be reexamined in light the complexity of the responsibilities that are required of principals. New models must revolve around leadership for learning and management strategies that rely on outsourcing and team leadership and a reliance on principal assessment, accountability, and data collection.
Usdan, M., McCloud, B., & Podmostko, M. (2000). Leadership for student learning: Reinventing the principalship. Institute For Educational Leadership, 1, 24.
Balanced Leadership: What 30 years of research tells us about the effect of leadership on student achievement
This paper provides a review and quantitative analysis of 30 years of research into the impact of leadership on schooling.
Waters, T., Marzano, R. J., & McNulty, B. (2003). Balanced leadership: What 30 years of research tells us about the effect of leadership on student achievement (pp. 1-19). Aurora, CO: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.

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