State Boards Expand Principal Pipelines in 2021

By Joseph Hedger

As schools face new and persistent challenges around student wellness, COVID-19 protocols, and educator recruitment and retention, state policymakers must equip principals to lead their schools effectively and must create environments in which education systems can thrive. The Wallace Foundation released a report in October 2021 outlining state policy levers to support comprehensive, aligned district principal pipelines: setting principal standards, high-quality principal preparation, selective hiring and placement, evaluation and support, principal supervisors, leader tracking systems, and systems of support. Actions that state boards of education took in 2021 to improve their principal pipelines aligned with many of these domains.

Members of the Nebraska State Board of Education voted in January 2021 to contract with LVL Consulting for the development and implementation of the vision, mission, goals, and accompanying instructional system for the Nebraska Teacher and Principal Performance Standards. Last revised in April 2020, the standards serve as a shared vision for learning, continuous improvement, staff support and development, operations and management, culture for learning, and professional ethics and advocacy.

In March 2021, the North Carolina State Board of Education heard a summary of findings from an independent evaluation of the Transforming Principal Preparation Program, which provides universities with state funding to develop innovative principal preparation programs.  The board also received recommendations on how best to recruit and select the most qualified participants from the highest-need school districts, broaden participant benefits, and expand the number of program grantees.

The Ohio Department of Education released strategies in October 2021 to guide districts’ use of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Program and American Rescue Plan funds for supporting new educators and “grow your own” programs. Strategies include developing principal support and mentoring programs aligned with the Ohio Principal Standards while also addressing distinct district needs, a workgroup to support and review principal development and evaluation systems, proposals for new principal support programs, and evaluations of those programs.

The Utah State Board of Education requested $5 million in state funding for 2022–23 to establish the Utah School Leadership Initiative, which builds upon recommendations from a statewide working group that the board approved in December 2018. The recommendations focused on developing, adapting, or adopting a school leadership performance assessment; establishing a school leadership development grant to assist districts in improving the principal pipeline; and developing a diverse and quality principal pipeline. The current initiative also focuses on the principal pipeline for rural and charter schools, where the availability of credentialed individuals is lower than other districts.

In August 2021, the West Virginia State Board of Education amended Policy 5309 to revise the evaluation process for county superintendents starting in 2022–23. Each year, districts must submit the superintendent’s performance evaluation to the state superintendent for state board approval before proceeding with the evaluation process. Board members also approved educational leadership and superintendent certificates at Fairmont State University in January 2021.