Written By: Tammie Workman, Education Consultant and Former Urban Schools Leader with Stacey DeWitt CEO of Connect with Kids Network.
Important Role of Principals
Fortunately, AMS has many structures in place to support their students through the ups and downs of their daily lives and the changes they experience. Embedded within their academics, AMS utilizes small class sizes, collaborative planning, and inquiry teams; they also embrace social emotional learning through a comprehensive advisory system for all students and provide home-school liaisons to foster communication and relationships – including intentional home visits. They additionally offer two gender-based programs for students who need more than foundational support.
Deeper Dive on The Important Role of the Principal
Synthesizing 2 decades of research, the report outlines 7 unified findings:
- Effective principals are at least as important for student achievement as previous reports have concluded—and in fact, their importance may not have been stated strongly enough.
- Principals have substantively important effects that extend beyond student achievement.
- Effective principals orient their practice toward instructionally focused interactions with teachers, building a productive school climate, facilitating collaboration and professional learning communities, and strategic personnel and resource management processes.
- Principals must develop an equity lens, particularly as they are called on to meet the needs of growing numbers of marginalized students.
- Effective principals are not equitably distributed across schools.
- Principals are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, but representation gaps with students are growing, which is concerning, given the payoffs to principal diversity.
- Research on school principals is highly variable, and the field requires new investment in a rigorous, cohesive body of research.
The 7 above should be viewed as inter-connected components and of course, equity should undergird everything. Whether it be aligned systems, climate, culture, staffing, funding, or curriculum and instruction, equity should not just be a north star, but a principal and school’s mandated lens in which to see, plan, and act for the benefit of the students they serve.
We agree that more targeted research on the role of the school principal is needed. However, we currently know from this body of research that principals both directly and indirectly affect outcomes for students, especially for marginalized populations, in areas of discipline, culturally responsive education components, and teacher turnover. Those are critical items that every district should get working on sooner rather than later.
There is no better time than now to look at hiring practices, discipline practices, curricula choices, and professional learning for teachers. There are a wealth of resources and models available.
Want the full report? The 136 page report is a good tool for a deeper dive with your leadership teams, with teachers and parents, and of course, with aspiring and current principals. Though school communities have known the value principals bring to their schools, it’s heartening to read the affirmation that principals not only matter, but they matter greatly.