Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Two recent reports overreach in recommendations to improve recruiting of school principals

Two recent reports that recommend implementing measures intended to recruit and retain more effective school principals offer some sensible discussion of the working conditions principals face – but both reports then recommend remedies that go beyond the research evidence, according to a new review released today.

Arnold Danzig, a professor of education and director of the EdD program in educational leadership at San José State University, reviewed the two reports for the Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

The reports under review are Lacking Leaders: The Challenges of Principal Recruitment, Selection, and Placement, published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Great Principals at Scale: Creating District Conditions that Enable All Principals to be Effective, jointly published by The Bush Institute and New Leaders.

Lacking Leaders attributes a paucity of superior candidates for principalship to ineffective hiring practices. It recommends greater autonomy in staffing decisions, increased district-level collaboration, and better pay – as much as $100,000 annually above current principal salary levels – to attract the best candidates. “No research in the report, however, justifies the size of the salary recommendation or demonstrates salary as the most important factor influencing principal recruitment, selection, or retention,” Danzig points out in his review.

Great Principals recommends better school and district alignment of goals and strategies, along with district-provided support structures and greater local autonomy for principals.

Danzig notes that “while both reports focus on the principal as the primary source of leadership in schools, neither considers other important sources of leadership.” Also, while both reports suggest that potential principals might be recruited from workplaces other than schools where the same skills are in demand, that suggestion “underestimates the human context of teaching and learning.”

Because of such limitations, the recommendations sections of the two reports are not particularly useful, even though the reports do a good job introducing issues around principal working conditions, Danzig concludes.


No comments: