Expand principal preparation for high need schools through regional leadership academies.
Principal leadership is one of the key levers1 to successful schools and student achievement. Principals are critical to attracting, developing and retaining teachers, enabling them to improve instruction, implementing key academic supports for students, involving parents, and creating a building culture that leads to strong student engagement and achievement. Principal leadership is especially critical in high need schools. Beginning in 2010, North Carolina implemented regional leadership academies with the goal of preparing school leaders for high need schools. The Northeast, Piedmont Triad and Sandhills Regional Leadership Academies have produced effective leaders, especially for high need schools, and especially in areas that often struggle to attract and retain quality principals. The state needs to build on this foundation.
North Carolina should implement the regional leadership academy initiative on a statewide scale. A competitive RFP would invite organizations, including universities, school districts, and nonprofit organizations to apply for funding to implement regional leadership academies that support the production of highly skilled leaders, especially for low-performing, high need schools. Applications could support single or multiple school districts. Funding priority would be given to areas of the state and school districts with significant numbers of low-performing schools.
1 National Conference of State Legislatures. (March 2014). Education Policy Brief. "Effective Schools Principals: A Lever for School Improvement."