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UW–Madison School of Education Joins Forces with School Districts, DWD to Cultivate Aspiring School Leaders 

This article was originally published on the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s website. 

To help identify and nurture future school leaders, the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education is partnering with three Wisconsin school districts to launch the District Leadership Preparation Pipeline (DLPP) program. This innovative program aims to transform 25 current school district employees into highly effective school leaders by August 2025.  

The DLPP program is a collaborative effort, bringing together an urban, suburban, and rural school district in south-central Wisconsin. Supported by funding from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) Fast Forward Industry Sectors Worker Training grant program, the initiative leverages the School of Education’s highly regarded 14-month principal preparation curriculum. 

“Good principals and school leaders truly benefit teachers, staff, and the education students receive,” DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek said. “We are eager to partner with the UW–Madison School of Education to help prepare leaders who will support our schools, our educators, and our future workforce.” 

Unlocking Excellence: Join Us for the “Developing Equity-Centered Principals” Learning Lab at #AACTE24

We are thrilled to extend a warm invitation to all participants of the AACTE 2024 Annual Meeting to join us for a pivotal Learning Lab, “Developing Equity-Centered Principals.” In the pursuit of excellence in education, understanding and addressing issues of equity are paramount. This session, scheduled for Saturday, February 17, 2024, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. MST, promises to be a transformative experience for educators, administrators, and anyone passionate about creating inclusive learning environments.

What Do School Districts Need in Their Principal Pipelines?

Listen to Episode 2 of Preparing and Sustaining School Principals 

AACTE’s newest podcast, AACTE PRESENTS: Preparing & Sustaining School Principals, shines a spotlight on the unsung heroes of schools and universities – our principals and the people who make them. As the leading voice in educator preparation, we engage in candid conversations with researchers, faculty, practitioners, and scholars to explore what makes an effective PK-12 school leader and how to prepare them. 

In this episode, we delve into principal pipelines, a key factor in ensuring schools are staffed with collaborative, effective leadership. Building on insights from Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Learning Community in 2019, where 84 school districts collaborated, this episode’s guests explore the approaches, opportunities, and challenges identified in the latest Wallace knowledge, a Principal Pipeline Sustainability Guide developed by Policy Study Associates.  

AACTE Launches New Podcast on Principal Preparation

AACTE is excited to launch a second podcast dedicated to supporting the often-unsung heroes in our education system: our principals. With support from the Wallace Foundation, Preparing and Sustaining Principals will dig into research from the Wallace’s Knowledge Center for School Leadership through interviews with researchers like Linda Darling-Hammond Ed.D., as well as the practitioners and principal preparation leaders who are implementing findings from that research to utilize. The learning objectives covered in the podcast, as well as many of the experts you’ll hear from, were provided by AACTE’s Principal Preparation Support TAG.

While last year’s podcast, The University Principal Preparation Initiative, covered a major collaborative redesign initiative between seven prep programs and their state and district partners, this podcast will dive deeper into the experiences and multi-faceted roles of principals and how their preparation did or could have better-prepared them to be school leaders. Over the next six episodes, we will discuss topics like how to prepare principals to be equitable in a climate of censorship, what type of preparation matters when principals are called to be crisis leaders, and how principal candidates view their preparation and future roles as school and community leaders.

A Culturally Responsive School Leadership Approach to Developing Equity-Centered Principals

The Wallace Knowledge Center on School Leadership released a new report over the summer that can help principal prep programs prepare candidates to be equitable leaders in their school districts.  A Culturally Responsive School Leadership Approach to Developing Equity-Centered Principals: Considerations for Principal Pipelines posits whether pipelines can be designed to advance a district’s vision of equity, and if so, what the pipeline would look like.

University preparation programs are an integral part of the pipeline, especially in developing equity-minded leaders, as covered in Episode 4, ‘Districts and Programs Collaborate in Commitment to Equity’ of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)’s University Principal Preparation Initiative Podcast. This report focuses on the four key characteristics of equity-centered school leaders: critical consciousness, inclusive schools, culturally relevant and responsive classrooms, and community engagement.

New Guide Seeks to Help Districts Keep Their Principal Pipelines Up and Running

The Wallace Foundation’s Knowledge Center for School Leadership has released a new Principal Sustainability Guide. The guide, developed by Policy Studies Associates (PSA), explains what it takes to sustain an effective principal pipeline and provides districts with tools to assess the strength of their pipelines and sustain their efforts for long-term benefits. Partnerships are one of the six key elements for sustainability outlined in the guide.

Last year, AACTE covered the partnership dynamics between principal preparation programs and districts throughout its University Principal Preparation Initiative Podcast. The podcast sheds light on how programs can work with districts to ensure high-quality principal preparation responsive to the district’s needs. The Principal Sustainability Guide dives into high-quality preservice principal preparation and the six other domains comprising a comprehensive, aligned principal pipeline strategy. AACTE encourages members to explore and share the guide with your district and community partners. AACTE and the Wallace Knowledge Center for School Leadership have a wealth of resources for preparation programs that cover various topics beyond district partnerships.

If you are interested in working with AACTE’s Topical Action Group for Principal Preparation and Support, please contact me at ndunn@aacte.org.

UNM’s ‘POLLEN’ Program Fills Critical Principal Shortage in Indigenous Schools

This article was originally published by the University of New Mexico Newsroom

A large part of the next wave of Indigenous school principals will come from The University of New Mexico.

There’s a growing group of dedicated learners aiming for that goal, in the Promoting Our Leadership, Learning, and Empowering Nations (POLLEN) program housed in the College of Education and Human Sciences (COEHS).

This immersive, licensure program began in 2016 to put teachers on a direct pathway to higher leadership in Indigenous or Native-serving schools. It has since received roughly $750,000 in grant funding to secure the future of principals and learners.

High-Quality Principal Learning Programs Associated with Improved Outcomes

As state leaders continue to weigh the best use of federal funding to improve education in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a major new research report by the Learning Policy Institute and The Wallace Foundation underscores the importance of federal, state, and district policies that foster the availability and quality of principal preparation and professional development programs. The research finds that the preparation and professional development a school principal receives not only shapes their efficacy as a leader, but are also associated with positive outcomes for teachers and students.

First-of-its-kind National Aspiring Principal Fellowship Now Available in 37 States and DC

Educators looking to become school leaders in 37 states and Washington, DC, can now enroll in the National Aspiring Principal Fellowship, a first-of-its-kind program created by national nonprofit New Leaders in partnership with distinguished historically Black institutions Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College to dramatically boost the number of principals of color leading K-12 schools across the country.

Wallace Foundation Author Joins Panel on University Principal Preparation Programs at Washington Week

Understanding principal preparation programs and their benchmarks for quality is a critical aspect of AACTE’s current work. Principals’ leadership plays an essential role in schools’ success, and school leader preparation programs play a key role in facilitating that success. AACTE partners with the Wallace Foundation to disseminate and contextualize Wallace knowledge for our Educator Preparation stakeholders. As part of Washington Week’s (June 6-8) Educator Shortage Strand, AACTE is proud to have Rebecca (Becki) Herman, senior policy researcher and education policy chair at the RAND, present research on the Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative.

Redesigning University Principal Preparation Programs is one of two comprehensive studies on principal learning – both preparation and professional development – commissioned by The Wallace Foundation this year. This report, authored by Herman, Susan M. Gates, Ashley Woo, Elaine Lin Wang, Tiffany Berglund, Jonathan Schweig, Megan Andrew, and Ivy Todd of the RAND Corporation reports on findings from a Wallace-funded five-year initiative in which seven universities worked with school districts, state education agencies, mentor programs, and others to redesign their principal preparation programs to reflect the best available evidence-based practices. 

“Past research shows that successful principal preparation programs should include partnerships with districts,” said Herman, lead author on the report. “Our report illustrates such engagement is feasible, valuable and critical to creating these programs.”

AACTE Launches New Podcast on School Leadership Research

Revolutionizing School Leadership Through ResearchSchool leadership is second only to teaching among school-related factors in its impact on student learning, and school leader preparation programs play a key role in facilitating that success. As the leading voice in educator preparation, AACTE has launched a new podcast series, “Revolutionizing School Leadership Through Research”.  This new podcast series highlights three cutting-edge research reports from the Wallace Foundation’s Knowledge Center on School Leadership.  The three-episode series defines the evolving role and expectations of the principalship, the corresponding preparation required to meet those expectations, and the state policy levers that can be pulled to increase the number of qualified, equitable leaders in that position.

The first episode takes a macro look into the connection between school leadership and school outcomes. AACTE speaks with the lead author, Jason Grissom, of the Wallace commissioned report, How Principals Affect Students and Schools, A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research”, Grissom walks through the major landscape shifts in the past 20 years, with key insights into how preparation programs can be effective, equitable leaders.

Leveraging Principal Prep Programs and State Partnerships

UPPI Podcast logoThroughout AACTE Presents: The University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) podcast, guests have talked at length about the district’s role in working with preparation programs to produce effective school leaders, but what is the state’s role?  Each of the seven programs in UPPI were given a state partner as well, and in the final episode of the podcast, AACTE talks to authors of two Wallace Foundation commissioned reports on state policy and principal prep about how UPPI programs should be leveraging their state partnerships.

AACTE/UPPI Podcast Explores ‘Redesigning Instructional Leadership Training’

UPPI Podcast logoAs the role of the principal evolves, so too does the extent to which they play the role of instructional leader. As a vital part of student outcomes and teacher retention in schools, it’s alarming that new principal often have skill gaps when providing instructional coaching. Teacher retention is due largely in part to the support of their principal, which is why AACTE continues to advocate for quality education leadership preparation programming. 

In the sixth episode of AACTE’s podcast covering the University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI), AACTE talks to Jason Grissom, author of How Principals Affect Students and Schools, about what the research says regarding instructional leadership. The episode also dives into Albany State UPPI program’s efforts to address the gaps in preparing principal candidates to be effective instructional coaches with UPPI Project Director Janice Carthon, and Felisa McDavid, who is a graduate of Albany State’s principal prep program and principal of St. James Elementary in South Carolina.

Listen now to Episode 6: Redesigning Instructional Leadership Training

AACTE/UPPI Podcast Highlights ‘A Sustainable Approach to Customizing Clinical Practice’

University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) podcastIn the fifth episode of AACTE’s podcast covering the Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI), David Lorden and Alejandro Gonzalez Ojeda from San Diego State University share how to restructure principal preparation programs to meet the array of needs required by various districts.  During the episode, titled “A Sustainable Approach to Customizing Clinical Practice,” Lorden and Gonzalez Ojeda share insights from their own UPPI experiences as faculty in diversifying the clinical experiences of candidates through collaborative redesign with the districts. Through these insights, they answer the following questions:

  • How do you prepare a principal to lead anywhere?
  • How can prep programs adapt to meet the various needs of districts?
  • Why is customization critical for education leadership prep programs? Especially for equity?
  • How can a university sustain customizing their learning experiences for candidates with different backgrounds and strengths?

New Podcast Episode: Districts and Programs Collaborate in Commitment to Equity

Principal preparation programs serve two major consumers: the candidate’s that enter their programs and the districts that hire them. Therefore, it is essential to align program redesign efforts to district needs, which we have learned vary across the state. In episode four of AACTE’s new University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) Podcast series chronicling the Wallace Foundation multi-year principal program redesign initiative, Franciso Edobedo, superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD), located in southern San Diego County, shares what superintendents are looking for in principals and other school leaders entering the field. Also featured is Douglas Fisher, professor and chair of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University, who discusses why and how prep programs should work with districts like CVESD.  Their collaboration led to various redesign improvements over the course of Wallace’s UPPI Initiative, but this episode dives deeper into how they were able to share, evaluate ,and act on data through an equitable lens.

Listen now to Episode 4: Districts and Programs Collaborate in Commitment to Equity