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Getting Effective Leaders into High-Needs Schools

Extensive series of a large group of high school aged students in a modern school facility, with books, cell phones, backpacks, etc.  Also includes multi-ethnic teachers as well.
Understanding how the preparation, recruitment, and hiring of principals impact student outcomes
  • Client
    Institute of Education Sciences
  • Dates
    2019 - 2022

In 2019 the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) funded a study called Getting Effective Leaders into High-Needs Schools: A Cross-Site Mixed-Methods Examination of Principal Preparation, Recruitment, and Hiring and Their Associations with Principal and School Outcomes. The study’s purpose is to identify the characteristics of the leadership pipeline that are related to leadership effectiveness and improved student outcomes, particularly in high-needs schools. NORC is conducting the study in partnership with faculty and staff members from the UChicago Consortium on School Research, the Tennessee Education Research Alliance at Vanderbilt University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The study will take place in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Tennessee public schools.

Researchers will focus on three specific areas of the leadership pipeline as potential mechanisms for improved student outcomes:

  • recruitment of leaders into the system
  • formal and informal leadership preparation
  • the hiring and placement process for school leaders

This cross-site, mixed-methods study will link three types of data:

  • administrative data on students and educators
  • data from CPS- and Tennessee-wide surveys of teachers and leaders
  • interview and focus group data from school leaders, leadership preparation program staff, and those involved in the principal hiring processes.

Our goal is to identify the pre-service characteristics, including school-based experiences, preparation, and effectiveness in prior positions, that are associated with effective leadership in the early years of a principal’s career. We also aim to identify which leadership pipeline processes are most associated with identifying and selecting effective school leaders, placing them equitably, and retaining them in the profession.

Results of the study will be relevant for district, university, and hiring decision-makers working on principal pipeline initiatives to provide more targeted and supportive professional development and training opportunities. In addition, districts could use this information to strategically diversify recruitment efforts and hire and retain effective leaders in high-needs schools.

Project Director

Senior Research Scientist

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