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Great Principals at Scale

If we want to achieve systemic impact, we must create district conditions that enable all principals to be effective.

Report by By the George W. Bush Institute and New Leaders June 1, 2014

Over the last decade, research has increasingly suggested what many of us have seen first-hand in schools across our country: principals matter and they have a significant impact on student achievement. In order to ensure all students are prepared for college, careers, and citizenship, we need to ensure there is a great principal in every school.

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. Margaret Spellings

In too many instances, however, principals are effective in spite of--rather than because of—district conditions. In isolated cases, super-hero leaders are getting results for students. But if we want to achieve – and sustain – systemic impact, we can’t rely on a super-hero strategy. Instead, we need to provide the tools, supports, and culture that enable well-prepared principals to lead significant improvements in student outcomes without having to go to unrealistically heroic lengths.


The Alliance to Reform Education Leadership and this publication would not be possible without generous support of AT&T Foundation, Bass Foundation, CME Group Foundation, Rainwater Charitable Foundation, Sid W. Richardson Foundation, The Morris Foundation, and The Prudential Foundation.

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