The Principal Pipeline Initiative – Anticipating the Effects

In 2011, six large school districts set out to build and manage pipelines to support their school principals. This Wallace Foundation-funded effort, known as the Principal Pipeline Initiative (PPI), was built on substantial evidence from more than a decade of the foundation’s school leadership efforts. On April 8, Wallace is hosting a livestream discussion to share findings from the RAND Corporation about the effects of the principal pipeline on both schools and students. As Learning Forward prepares to participate in this major event, I wanted to take a moment to remind our stakeholders a bit about this initiative which has been so helpful in understanding what it takes to prepare and support strong principals.

First, here are a few PPI basics taken directly from the Wallace Perspective titled, “Building Principal Pipelines – A Job that Urban Districts Can Do.” The initiative funded districts to focus on four key areas highlighted by research and prior work in the field:

  • Standards, or job descriptions, that spell out what principals need to know and be able to do
  • Pre-service training that equips enrollees with the knowledge and skills districts need and is given by providers with selective admissions policies;
  • Hiring procedures that consider only well-qualified professionals for jobs and make strong matches between candidate and school; and
  • On-the-job evaluation and support that are linked to one another and that serve to help principals, especially novices, improve – particularly in bolstering instruction.

As the initiative unfolded in the six districts, Wallace commissioned several reports which provided some key findings. For example, a 2013 Policy Studies Associates (PSA) report, “Building a Stronger Principalship (Vol. 1): Six Districts Begin the Principal Pipeline Initiative,” highlighted the power of leadership standards in the participating districts. PSA found that the six PPI districts each brought significant clarity to their standards and made sure they were “living documents” that truly guided what aspiring principals should be taught, which criteria should be used for assessing job candidates, and how sitting principals should be evaluated and assisted.

Since 2013, other PPI interim reports have been released and Wallace shared a number of highly informative Podcasts showcasing the work of the PPI districts. The various independent studies have shown that building principal pipelines proved to be feasible and affordable, and can be sustained. All of these resources can be found in The Wallace Foundation Knowledge Center. As all of this work has continued in the districts, many of us have continued to ask the question, “What are the true effects of all these efforts?”

We hope you will join Learning Forward in learning the RAND findings about the effects of the Principal Pipeline Initiative.  The livestreamed presentation and superintendent panel discussion will take place on April 8 between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. ET, and viewers will have the opportunity to submit questions to the panelists from 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon ET. The link to register can be found here: https://conta.cc/2EoE25q