Focus on the Principals….At Last!

November 14, 2016

Research suggests that the building leader/school principal is second after a high quality teacher when looking at impacts on student achievement.  While this idea has been suggested for a significant period of time, in many places, including New York State, the focus of intentional, sustained professional development and supports has been almost solely on teachers, not teachers and principals.  The good news is that this dynamic may be changing soon when it comes to supporting principals in New York.


Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has convened a 38 member Principal Project Advisory Team to focus on four questions:

  1. How well do professional standards for school leaders align with the demands of the job?

  2. How can feedback from the filed about the current state of principal preparation translate into state-level changes that improve the preparation of school principals?

  3. How can the State adjust policies on professional development, supervision and evaluation in ways that enhance the development of current and aspiring school leaders?

  4. To what extent can real-time reporting of two events improve school leadership quality (Identifying aspiring principals and reporting progress toward placement, and school-based career placement changes over time for principals in NYS.)

Two CASDA faculty members are included on the advisory team, which overall consists of the following:

  • Superintendents/BOCES Superintendent

  • School Building Leader certified individuals

  • Teachers

  • Board Members

  • Parents

  • Representatives of Higher Education

  • External Experts

The work of the team is divided into phases, including:  Mapping the work, Researching what works, Completing recommendations for the Regents related to school building leader preparation programs and certification, and launching a leader tracking system.


Educators across the state were recently invited to complete a Survey Monkey survey designed to gather their feedback about what elements are most important in school building leader preparation programs, as well as what competencies are most necessary for a school building leader to possess in order to facilitate continuous improvement within their school/district.  Additionally, focus groups were conducted with Deans of institutions with SBL certification programs, in-service school building leaders, school board members, and teachers to receive their input relative to the committee charge.


Currently, the Advisory Team is diving into a plethora of recent research about what is known about effective principals, effective preparation programs, and effective support for principals once they are placed in a school.


CASDA currently provides multiple supports for principals throughout the region including:

  • The Principals Guild- a space to gather and learn about current research and strategies for improving student outcomes, as well as a place to collaborate and network;

  • The Principal Center Advisory Board – a group dedicated to supporting aspiring as well as in-practice principals;

  • Leader coaching – purchase by districts to support in-service building principals (as well as other leaders)

  • Timely professional development – Often directed/requested by the CASDA Advisory Board, as well as professionals in the field;

  • Sharing of timely and applicable research.

  • CASDA is also an “arm” of the University at Albany, and regularly provides perspective from the field and members to inform the work within the Advanced Graduate Certificate, Master’s and Ph.D. programs for K-12 leaders.

The creation of the Principal Project Advisory Team holds great promise for creating strong recommendations to the Commissioner and Board of Regents for implementation in the near future.  The team is to complete their work by May.  Stay tuned for updates, as well as outcomes once the team completes its work!

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