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Bush Institute and TCU Host Principal Preparation Panel

On Thursday, October 20, the George W. Bush Institute and the TCU College of Education co-hosted a panel on principal preparation coinciding with the Bush Institute’s release of two major studies on education leadership: a principal preparation evaluation study and the Principal Talent Management Framework, developed through the Bush Institute’s Alliance to Reform Education Leadership (AREL).

The panel discussion focused on the complexities of this work and how evaluation efforts can be improved in the future. Anne Humphrey, Director of Education Reform at the Bush Institute and TCU Scholar in Residence Dr. Melody Johnson moderated two panels including leaders in principal preparation and research:

  • Matthew Clifford, Ph.D., Researcher at American Institutes for Research and AREL Fellow; George W. Bush Institute
  • Eva Chiang, J.D., Deputy Director of Education Reform and Research and Evaluation; George W. Bush Institute
  • Diana Pounder, Ph.D., Research Associate; Utah Education Policy Center, University of Utah
  • Steve Tozer, Ph.D., Professor in Educational Policy Studies; University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Marla McGhee, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, TCU
  • Susan Korach, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Denver

Panelists agreed that measuring and evaluating principal preparation programs is complex work and challenging to accomplish effectively.

“Measuring a principal’s impact is different than measuring a teacher’s,” Chiang said. “Principals can make an impact on student achievement but it will be smaller than a teacher who’s in front of those kids.”

Dr. McGhee said research in instructional supervision supports the fact that leaders make an impact through teachers who ultimately affect learning outcomes for students.

“When the locus of control is shifted to the teacher to think carefully about his or her instructional decision-making when the classroom door is closed, this can profoundly impact teaching and learning,” she said.

Drs. Pounder, Tozer and Korach reinforced that successful principals can strongly influence teachers.

“If a principal can’t create a strong adult learning environment, school outcomes won’t change,” Dr. Tozer said. “If you want serious outcomes you have to make schools a place where teachers learn to improve their practice.”

The Bush Institute’s studies explore ways to evaluate principal preparation and offer suggestions about how districts can implement and update policies to hire and retain effective principals.