Review of Gateways to the Principalship

Gretchen Rhines Cheney & Jacquelyn Davis
Center for American Progress
October 24, 2011
January 10, 2012

Gateways to the Principalship: State Power to Improve the Quality of School Leaders proposes state policies for improving principal effectiveness and student achievement. It uses policy examples from eight “lagging” and eight “leading” states as a means of advocating for a wide range of policy actions aimed at influencing principal preparation, licensure and retention. The report, however, has several flaws that undermine its usefulness. It provides little explanation on how the state exemplars were selected or why they were considered to be leading or lagging. It makes little use of existing research. It does not report on extensive current state and professional activities on leadership standards, program accreditation and licensure requirements that address exactly these features. It recommends ending the “monopoly” of higher education in principal preparation and broadening (or lowering) the criteria for becoming a principal, but it provides no research or other evidence that such changes are warranted, will improve student achievement, or have other beneficial effects. The report’s endorsement of broadly accepted, almost platitudinous reform principles, coupled with unsupported and possibly counterproductive recommendations, renders the report of little value in improving the quality of principals.

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