50-State Comparison Tracks School Leader Certification, Preparation

A new resource developed by the Education Commission of the States (ECS) offers a 50-state comparison of school leader certification and preparation programs, along with individual state profiles.

As more attention turns to the ways in which school leaders are prepared and certified, particularly in light of the impact school leaders have on student learning, states are evaluating and developing policies to strengthen and improve the quality of school leaders. ECS conducted the 50-state assessment of school leader policies and identified the following key takeaways:

  • All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have adopted standards to guide school leadership policies.
  • At least 39 states, plus the District of Columbia, allow for alternative routes to initial school leader certification, either through an innovative or experimental preparation program or through nontraditional paths to certification.
  • At least 38 states require field experience as part of traditional school leader preparation programs.
  • At least 37 states require candidates to hold a master’s degree and have at least 3 years’ teaching or related experience to qualify for an initial school leader certification.

The assessment was developed with support from The Wallace Foundation. For more information or to see how your state approaches school leader certification and preparation, visit ECS’s website.

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Zachary VanHouten

Manager of Programs and Advocacy, AACTE

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