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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Study confirms it's hard to find good principals



The Hillsborough School Board agenda for Tuesday calls for five new principals to be named.

Not only that: Two principal coaches will be named, leaving yet another round of vacancies.

A good principal, it turns out, is hard to find.

A recent study that looked at six school districts, including Hillsborough, suggests the very strategies districts are employing to improve education are spreading them thin in the leadership ranks.

"District leaders want to roll out evaluations that hold principals accountable," says a statement that introduces the report by Policy Studies Associates and the RAND Corp. "And yet, in several districts, accountability has resulted in principal dismissals, which have increased demand for new principals while making the job seem less secure to applicants."

In Hillsborough, administrators did not focus on the job security issue, but on the difficulty in finding and grooming candidates that are fully qualified to do the job.

The six districts are all taking part in a pilot principal recruitment and training program called Principal Pipeline and funded by the Wallace Foundation for $75-million.

RAND and Policy Studies are providing the research component and this was their first report.

"These school districts, like others nationwide, face a problem: They need strong principals, but it's a demanding job that, in some places, offers little job security. They want to bring in new principals who are ready to meet those challenges," said lead author Brenda Turnbull of Policy Studies Associates.

In Hillsborough, the Pipeline effort came about during the lauch of Empowering Effective Teachers, which provides stuctured evaluations for teachers, principals, assistant principals and other school employees.

One positive development, Hillsborough officials said, is that they can use lessons they learned in rolling out the teacher evaluations to get principals ready for their own.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 7:13pm]


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