In Lacking Leaders: The Challenges of Principal Recruitment, Selection, and Placement, Public Impact’s Daniela Doyle and Gillian Locke took an inside look at the hiring processes of five urban districts around the country–and came up with six steps districts can take to hire the best principals for each school.
Written for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Lacking Leaders discusses the need to make the job more appealing, manageable, and appropriately compensated; the need to actively recruit and evaluate high-quality candidates and match schools with candidates’ strengths; and the need for ongoing evaluation of hiring efforts.
Some excerpts from some of the news coverage about the report:
- Practices for hiring school principals fall short, study says (WCPO, Cincinnati) (no longer available online):
We knew little about how great leaders were recruited, developed and placed, and wanted to unveil a little bit of that mystery,” [Gillian] Locke said.
The impact of hiring a principal that is a good fit for a school district can be profound, according to Locke.
“Research shows that leaders matter a lot,” Locke said. “There is a direct correlation that about one-fourth of a school’s impact on achievement can be attributed to that school’s leader.”
Locke said the study’s primary finding is that principal hiring practices, even in pioneer districts, are falling behind, and needy schools aren’t getting the leaders they need.
However, hiring practices are not the entire solution.
“Being a principal is a tough responsibility,” Locke said. “Districts need to re-imagine the principal’s role in order to attract people to the job and pay leaders what they’re worth. The study’s evidence shows that this is a hard job to staff.”
- Should principals be treated like CEOs? (The Atlantic):
[I]n many districts aspiring teachers take a pay cut on their way to the principal’s office. “It’s not uncommon for principals to have to become an assistant principal first,” says Daniela Doyle, a senior consultant with Public Impact and co-author of the Fordham study. “Often it’s not that the base pay is lower, it’s that teachers are eligible for supplemental pay through special duties they can assume or national board certifications.” Above all else, Doyle found the five school districts struggled with principal placement because they don’t really recruit. “There are great principal candidates falling through the cracks,” she says. “Schools did very little to actively find people. They often just advertised a position, sitting back and waiting for the talent to come to them, which we know from other sectors isn’t usually an effective strategy.”