Principal Standards

All Research

Change Agents: How States Can Develop Effective School Leaders

This report highlights the very important role that states play in cultivating principal leadership talent. This paper speaks concern about improving human resources management at the state and district levels, doing quality control at the entry requirements, and give states tools and strategies to re-frame policies to bolster the principal talent pipeline. 

Change Agents: How States Can Develop Effective School Leaders. (2013). New York: New Leaders. Retrieved from  

Leadership for Learning: Making the Connections among State, District, and School Policies and Practices

This paper discusses the potential and challenges of a “cohesive leadership system” which coordinates leadership standards, training, and conditions at both the State and district levels. Effective coordination of these components, then, has the potential to both speed and make more permanent the benefits to the learning of all students.

Leadership for Learning: Making the Connections among State, District, and School Policies and Practices. (2006). New York: The Wallace Foundation. Retrieved from

Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto the NAEP Scales: Results From the 2015 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Assessments

Standardized tests play a critical role in tracking and comparing K-12 student progress across time, student demographics, and governing bodies (states, cities, districts). One methodology is to benchmark the each state’s proficiency standards against those of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test.  This study does just that.  Using NAEP as a common yardstick allows a comparison of different state assessments. The results confirm the wide variation in proficiency standards across states.  It also documents that the significant majority of states have standards are much lower than those established by the NAEP.

Bandeira de Mello, V., Rahman, T., and Park, B.J. (2018). Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto NAEP Scales: Results From the 2015 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Assessments (NCES 2018-159). U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics.

Principal Licensure Exams and Future Job Performance: Evidence From the School Leaders Licensure Assessment

This paper investigate the most commonly used exam, the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA), using 10 years of data on Tennessee test takers. This paper found that although candidates with higher scores are more likely to be hired as principals, we find little evidence that SLLA scores predict measures of principal job performance, including supervisors’ evaluation ratings or teachers’ assessments of school leadership from a statewide survey.

Grissom, J. A., Mitani, H., & Blissett, R. S. (2017). Principal licensure exams and future job performance: Evidence from the School Leaders Licensure Assessment. Educational evaluation and policy analysis39(2), 248-280.

Principals in the Pipeline

This paper describe four essential elements of effective principals: principal standards, high-quality training, selective hiring, and a combination of solid on-the-job support and performance evaluation, especially for new hires.

Mendels, P. (2012). Principals in the pipeline. The Learning Professional33(3), 48.

The principal as Human Capital Manager: Lessons from the Private Sector

This research suggests that the effectiveness of principals in managing the recruitment and advancement of teachers will contribute to improvements in student learning. One of the key ways these managers influence performance is through human capital management: the attraction, development and retention of the employee talent the organization needs.

Milanowski, A., & Kimball, S. (2010). The principal as human capital manager: Lessons from the private sector. Teaching talent: A visionary framework for human capital in education, 69-90.

Principal Effectiveness: A New Principalship to Drive Student Achievement, Teacher Effectiveness and School Turnarounds with Key Insights from the Urban Excellence Framework

This report uses findings from individual school across the country and principals to inform a new definition of principal effectiveness. It makes recommendations for school leadership policies geared toward dramatically increasing the number of successful principals. 

New Leaders for New Schools. (2009). Principal Effectiveness: A New Principalship to Drive Student Achievement, Teacher Effectiveness and School Turnarounds with Key Insights from the Urban Excellence Framework [TM]. Executive Summary. ERIC Clearinghouse.

First-Ever Professional Standards for Principal Supervisors Released

The first-ever standards meant to clarify what principal supervisors should know and be able to do to help principals improve teaching and learning in schools were released on Monday.

Superville, D.R. (2015). First-Ever Professional Standards for Principal Supervisors Released. Eduaction Week. Retrieved from

School Principals and School Performance
This paper uses data from New York City to estimate how the characteristics of school principals relate to school performance, as measured by students' standardized exam scores and other outcomes. There is little evidence of any relationship between school performance and principal education and pre-principal work experience, but some evidence that experience as an assistant principal at the principal's current school is associated with higher performance among inexperienced principals.
Clark, D., Martorell, P., & Rockoff, J. (2009). School Principals and School Performance. Working Paper 38. National Center for Analysis of longitudinal data in Education research.
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.
Assessing Learning-Centered Leadership: Connections to Research, Professional Standards, and Current Practices
Research shows that most assessments of school leaders are ineffective in gauging how leaders are - or are not - promoting learning. This Wallace Perspective describes a possible new direction, highlights new assessment instruments and discusses unknowns in using assessments to improve leadership and benefit students.
Portin, B. S. (2009). Assessing the effectiveness of school leaders: New directions and new processes. The Wallace Foundation
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