Choosing an effective school principal is one of the most significant decisions that a superintendent or school board can make, as new leadership can propel a district forward in meeting its goals. In this issue brief, AIR staff review the research and summarize the challenges facing school superintendents and hiring committees when identifying and selecting candidates. The paper also identifies emerging hiring practices.
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School principals are second only to classroom teachers as the most influential school factor in student achievement. For the lowest-performing schools, strong leadership—including setting and maintaining direction—plays a key role in turning around schools’ performance and improving student outcomes. Assessing the performance of principals is essential given the position’s critical role. AIR researchers reviewed eight publicly available formative assessments of principal performance, focusing on the tool’s approach, time requirement, content and construct validity, and reliability.