Transforming Principal Preparation

Just as executive leaders are essential to the success of businesses, principals are essential to the success of students and schools. The principal is one of the most important school-based factors impacting student achievement, second only to the influence of the classroom teacher. Indeed, approximately one-fourth of a school’s impact on academic achievement can be attributed to the principal. Further, evidence from both business and education confirms that an effective turnaround – transforming persistent low-performance into a successful organization – requires a highly effective leader at the helm. So in 2015, the North Carolina created the Transforming Principal Preparation program (TP3), a bold effort to redefine principal preparation across the state. Structured as a competitive grant program, TP3 significantly increases North Carolina’s investment in school leadership, while raising the bar on who can serve as a principal and enabling preparation programs to dramatically improve their practices.

6 programs. 46 school districts. Over 100 candidates. Thousands of children’s lives. Transformed.

Transforming Principal Preparation in North Carolina: Policy Brief

This policy brief, the first in a series from BEST NC, highlights the critical importance of school principals and documents North Carolina’s investment in a new approach to principals’ initial preparation. It explores the business community’s role in advocacy on behalf of school leaders, and looks ahead to additional investments, policies, and communications that can continue to strength North Carolina’s support for school principals. Click the image to the left to download a copy of the policy brief, and view short highlights of some of the candidates and programs supported by this initiative below.

Introduced in the House as HB902, TP3 was incorporated into the state budget in 2015 with an initial investment of $1M. The TP3 policy makes state funds available to principal preparation programs through a competitive grant program. Traditional public and independent institutions of higher education are eligible to apply, as are non-traditional, non-profit routes of entry. Through the incentive of state funds, TP3 integrates the key research-based components of successful principal preparation nationwide, including:

  • Proactive, intentional recruitment efforts
  • A high bar for entry
  • Rigorous and relevant coursework
  • Strategic and sustained investments in teacher & principal salaries
  • Teacher recruitment scholarships for hard-to-staff schools & subjects
  • Teacher leadership & alternative compensation pilots
  • Targeted investments in high-quality recruitment & principal preparation
  • A full-time, paid residency; and
  • A focus on authentic partnerships with and preparation for service in high-need schools and districts

The first TP3-approved preparation programs opened their doors to state-funded cohorts in early 2017. Today, six regional programs are serving more than 100 new principal candidates who were rigorously selected in partnership with local districts, with a particular focus on high-need schools: