Principal Professional Development: New Opportunities for a Renewed State Focus

Cortney Rowland

Over the years, most states and districts have focused professional development on teachers rather than principals. However, evidence suggests that principals can play an important role in reaching our national goals of high achievement for all students. School leaders are powerful levers for change—when given the right training and support. But most of our nation’s school principals do not have access to professional learning that reflects what is happening in schools today.

Improving principal professional development is going to require a new way of thinking, prioritizing, and budgeting—at the state and local levels. Some states and districts are already doing this work, and there is research that illustrates what can be done to enhance on-the-job principal professional development.

This policy brief describes:

  • The need for more and better principal professional development to improve principal effectiveness, decrease principal turnover, and more equitably distribute successful principals across all schools;
  • The research on the importance of principals and how professional development can improve principals’ effectiveness; and
  • Options and examples for leveraging current policies to revisit and refocus efforts concerning principal professional development.