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NC State University’s Principal Preparation Redesign: Creating Excellent Leaders, Effective Schools, and Enriched Communities

Project Team: PI-Timothy Drake 

Sponsor: The Wallace Foundation​

Project Total: $5,144,888


The Wallace Foundation<> selected NC State to participate in a national $47-million initiative to develop models over four years for improving university principal preparation programs and to examine state policy to see if it could be strengthened to encourage higher-quality training statewide. An independent study, to be conducted by Rand, will capture lessons from the participating universities and their partners to be shared with policymakers and practitioners across the country.

Project partners include NC DPI, the NC Governor’s Office, Johnston County Public Schools, Wake County Schools, and the Northeast Leadership Academy Consortium. The University of Denver will provide guidance and facilitate NC State’s program redesign.

The University Principal Preparation Initiative builds on 15 years of Wallace-supported research and experience about what makes for effective principals and their “pre-service” training at universities. The initiative seeks to explore how university programs can improve their training so it reflects the evidence on how best to prepare effective principals, and then to share these insights to benefit the broader field.

The Foundation hopes the initiative can contribute over the long term to the development of a new national approach to preparing effective principals, one focusing on evidence-based policies and practices in three areas:

• Developing and implementing high-quality courses of study with practical, on-the-job experiences.
• Putting in place strong university-district partnerships.
• Developing state policies about program accreditation, principal licensure or certification, and other matters (funded internships, for example) to promote more effective training statewide.

NC State’s corporate partner, SAS, is working with our partner districts to develop a leadership tracking system which will provide data about the on the job performance of our graduates in order to assist in continuous programmatic improvement efforts.