Growing From Within: The Effectiveness of a School District's Leadership Institute Principal Pipeline Initiative Program

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2022-05-13

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Abstract

Principals are influential components of successful schools as principals have a large influence over both organizational and student achievement. Principal turnover is detrimental to campuses and districts it takes roughly five years for a principal to effect long-lasting change. Furthermore, principal turnover impacts campus culture, campus climate, and teacher turnover. Replacing a principal costs school districts approximately $75,000. The Wallace Foundation started the Principal Pipeline Initiative (PPI) in 2011, providing school districts with a framework to better recruit, train, and retain qualified leaders to have a more impactful influence over organizational and student achievement while curtailing the negative impact leadership turnover has. In 2012, a large Houston suburb school district adopted the PPI framework and created their own District Leadership Institute Program (DLIP) with eight institutes ranging from preservice preparation to incumbent leadership training and support. The purpose of my study is to examine this specific school district’s efforts to recruit, train, and retain qualified principals through the implantation of the PPI framework. My mixed-methods research looked to answer three research questions: 1. How does the district screen applicants to select people who will best serve the purpose of the program? 2. Whether and to what degree do DLIP participants feel that the program prepared them to be effective in the principalship? 3. Whether and how have leadership turnover rates changed since the inception of the DLIP? Research participants included employees of this school district who serve on the Leadership Development Committee and former DLIP participants from the past three years. Qualitative data came from 60-90-minute, individual, semi- structured interview sessions with research participants. Additionally, I employed

document analysis related to DLIP implementation and curriculum. Quantitative data came from analyzing and comparing principal turnover data from this school district, bordering school districts, Region IV, and the state of TX from 2012 (when the DLIP was implemented) to 2020. The scholarly significance of this study lies within its potential to determine the impact a school district has on leadership recruitment, training, and retention. As the need for school leaders is estimated to increase in the upcoming years, this research aimed to contribute to the effectiveness of school district hiring and training practices. My study showed that in terms of recruitment, this school district did an effective job of purposefully recruiting candidates who already had the skillset and ability to be a principal. This was done by tapping candidates on the shoulder and encouraging them to apply. My study also showed that the training provided to these candidates included providing a full picture of what the principalship looks like, and allowing for the district to provide unique experiences to cohort members that will better prepare them to not only be principal but also in their journey to becoming a principal. The support provided to aspiring principals from district leaders, such as providing a principal mentor, allowed for cohort members to feel better prepared for future or current leadership positions within a district. Moreover, my study showed that while this district did see an increase in principal turnover from 2012 to 2020, the increase was much smaller than that of bordering districts, Region IV, and the state of Texas. DLC leaders felt that this PPI program allowed for the district to retain principals because of the promotion of qualified candidates who are in line with the district’s vision of what leadership is. DLC leaders also felt that this program allowed for them to better know principal candidates, and in turn, hire a near-perfect principal to meet a campus’s needs. In conclusion, PPI programs

allow for districts to purposefully recruit and effectively train principals from within their school district which will in turn help with principal retention and turnover rates.

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Keywords

Principal Pipeline, Leadership, Educational Leadership, Principal, Administration, Recruit, Train, Retain, Wallace Foundation, Leadership Development, Development, Campus Leadership, Growth, District Development, Principal Pipeline Initiative

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