Press | New Report Identifies District Conditions That Support Effective School Leadership

New York, NY –Today, the George W. Bush Institute’s Alliance to Reform Education Leadership (AREL) and New Leaders, Inc. released a framework outlining the conditions necessary for leaders to transform schools.

Great Principals at Scale: Creating District Conditions That Enable All Principals to Be Effective, and the accompanying toolkit, came out of the Conditions for Effective Leadership Project, led by the Bush Institute and New Leaders, which brought together more than 20 education and leadership experts for insight and recommendations.

School leaders are critical in the lives of students and to the development of their teachers. Unfortunately, in too many instances, principals are effective in spite of – rather than because of – district conditions. To truly improve student achievement for all students across the country, well-prepared principals need the tools, support, and culture that enable them to be the best.

The Great Principals at Scale report and Toolkit offer a framework of conditions that can help districts enable great school leadership. One finding from the report is that effective districts’ central office staffs and school-level leaders see one another as partners in meeting students’ needs. There is balanced autonomy in which school leaders are expected to support district-wide priorities, goals, and initiatives—but they also have discretion, within guidelines and subject to approval, to implement them in ways that fit the context and needs of their schools. Effective districts also provide principals with more authority to make staffing decisions, and they make the principal role more doable by encouraging and enabling distribution of leadership to other staff in the school building and by ensuring that district-wide systems are run effectively so that principals can focus on the most critical leadership tasks.

In emphasizing the critical importance of the conditions within which principals work, Margaret Spellings, president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, said, “Working to recruit and develop high quality principals won’t produce the improvements in student achievement our country needs without also establishing effective conditions in which these principals can thrive.”

The Toolkit which accompanies the Great Principals work was developed to help school system leaders assess their current leadership conditions and offers ways to improve those conditions to drive student achievement gains.

New Leaders CEO Jean Desravines noted: “Theory and research are only beneficial if they drive actions that ultimately help our students. I’m confident that the Toolkit that accompanies the Great Principals report will be a great resource to districts who want to assess and implement effective conditions to support principals’ and schools’ successes.”