School leaders account for up to one-fourth of school-based effects on student achievement. Here’s an overview of how the NC State College of Education’s principal preparation programs have become a national model for preparing dynamic leaders who positively influence a school’s culture and student outcomes.
"The principal pipeline is only as healthy as the teacher pipeline, and many of the same obstacles for teacher recruitment apply for principal recruitment," says Assistant Professor Timothy Drake, Ph.D., an expert in principal preparation who recently participated in a panel to discuss the condition of the principal pipeline and principal preparation in North Carolina at the invitation of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
NC State started redesigning its principal preparation program a decade ago by asking local school leaders and practitioners about what skills principals need to succeed in area schools. This video from the Wallace Foundation shows how NC State built partnerships with districts and the state to align the program to leader standards, ground the curriculum in real-world experience, explore systems to track principal performance, and more.
Built around research that shows how school leaders can retain effective teachers and create a culture of achievement, NC State's principal preparation programs graduate K-12 school leaders who make rapid improvements in both student performance and behaviors, leading the programs to be one of only five in the nation recognized collectively as exemplary by the University Council for Educational Administration.
Where We Are
Our principal preparation programs encompass over a half-dozen leadership academies and cohorts that serve nearly a quarter of the public school districts in North Carolina and have graduated 140 principals, assistant principals and other school leaders since graduating their first cohort in 2012:
Our principal preparation programs are nationally recognized for developing highly-effective school leaders.
1 of Only 5
Principal Preparation Programs Among 770+ in Nation Recognized as Exemplary by University Council for Educational Administration
National Ranking in Educational Leadership and Administration Specialty Category by U.S. News and World Report
of NELA First-Year Principals Met or Exceeded Growth in High-need, Title I Schools vs. 75% of Experienced Principals (2014-15)
Meet a Few of Our Alumni
This program pulled me so far out of my comfort zone that, looking back now, I know I could never go back to the person I was before. I now walk into school buildings energized, prepared and equipped. Not only did the programs prepare the professional in me, but they also deeply developed the person I am as well. I am better because of this experience.
Otis Maben '18MSA
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In the News
Hunt Institute: Lessons from the Field
Jennifer O'Meara and Donnell Cannon, principals in Edgecombe County and graduates of the NC State College of Education Northeast Leadership Academy, welcomed members of the Hunt Institute’s policy team to their schools to show the transformative work that is underway.
Hunt Institute: Principal Preparation Case Study
In creating programs to meet the unique needs of districts located in rural and urban settings, NC State has built a rigorous, practice-based principal preparation program utilizing equity-focused school leader development. The Hunt Institute takes a closer look at the program, and considers the conditions that support success.
EdTalk: How NELA Prepares Principals to Lead N.C. Schools
Principals are second only to the teacher when it comes to school-based factors on student achievement, says NC State Professor Bonnie Fusarelli, director of the Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA). She talks with EdTalk Podcast host Alex Granados about how NELA prepares principals for their role as leaders.
EdNC: NC State's Acclaimed Principal Program Assesses Candidate Character
Ahead of choosing its eighth cohort, NC State's principal preparation programs reassessed their goals. They evaluated what kind of traits leaders need to administer schools. Then they split the traits into two categories: those that can be taught through coursework and training, and those that should already exist within individuals.
Education Week: Principal-Prep Programs Adapting to Meet Real-World Demands of Job
In 2016, the Wallace Foundation announced a four-year initiative to overhaul the way university preparation programs trained principals to meet school districts' needs and reflect what research says is needed for effective school leadership. What are researchers finding about the $48.5-million initiative? Promising news so far.
EdNC: Governor's Commission Discusses Principal Pipeline and Preparation
The Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education convened in October 2018 to consider the role that principals play in ensuring that North Carolina meets its obligation to provide all students with access to a sound basic education. Speakers included NC State Professor Bonnie Fusarelli, who provided an overview of the state's principal pipeline.