Ongoing questions and debate about how to best recruit, educate, mentor and evaluate school principals prompted the Wallace Foundation to launch what it calls the Principal Pipeline Initiative in August 2011, with six urban school districts across the country participating.
At the core of the initiative, an ambitious, multi-year effort, is the belief that a more intentional and coordinated effort to strengthen new principals will lead to improved teaching quality and student achievement.
The Wallace Foundation continues to emphasize the role of principal training programs like the one at William Woods University as a cornerstone in the effort to strengthen and align the following components of their work with new principals:
- Leader standards, to which the sites will align job descriptions, training, hiring requirements, evaluations, and professional development.
- High-quality training, including recruitment, selective admissions, and pre-service experiences aligned with district expectations for leaders.
- Selective hiring of the most qualified applicants, and placement based on a match between the candidate and the school.
- On-the-job evaluation and support: evaluation that addresses the capacity to improve teaching and learning; and support that includes mentoring and professional development addressing the needs that evaluation has identified.
While Missouri is not represented among the six Principal Pipeline Initiative districts, the Wallace Foundation has long recognized Missouri as a leader in reform. In a 2008 report, the foundation singled out Missouri for its early work on leader standards.
Missouri, for example, has identified essential leadership behaviors and has been working to implement them at every phase of leadership development – including redesigning all 17 university preparation programs for leaders in that state as well as its newly-enacted statewide principal mentoring program.
Superintendents and college education programs across the country now realize that the preparation pathway for successful principals must begin as early as possible, reaching into the teaching force to spot potential leadership talent and to begin to cultivate it systematically.
William Woods University has long enjoyed close relationships with school leaders across Missouri. That circle helps to inform the evolution of a course such as EDU500/Current Issues, one of the hallmarks of the Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree. This course helps aspiring principals better understand their multi-pronged role, as administrators and as instructional leaders.