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.

2015: The Transforming Principal Preparation Program

Given the tremendous importance of school leadership, in 2015, 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 increased 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.

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.

2019: Consolidation of TP3 and the North Carolina Principal Fellows Program

In 2019, the TP3 program was consolidated with the North Carolina Principal Fellows Program, creating a single, unified, principal preparation program for our state.  The new TP3/Principal Fellows program combines TP3’s competitive grants-based model with the Principal Fellows’ Commission-based governance to ensure North Carolina’s top talent is recruited and rigorously prepared for leadership in our state’s highest need schools.

By pooling the funding from each of the individual programs, the consolidated TP3/Principal Fellows program will be able to utilize its resources more efficiently to recruit high-quality candidates to the most rigorous, evidence-based preparation programs. Together, the merged program will produce as much as 40%+ of the annual principal pipeline for the state.

Incorporating Research-Based Components for High-Quality Principal Preparation

The consolidated TP3/Principal Fellows Program is open to traditional public and independent institutions of higher education as well as non-traditional, non-profit routes of entry. Through the incentive of state funds, the program 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

During the 2020-21 school year, eight grantees were operating regional preparation programs serving principal candidates rigorously selected in partnership with local school districts: