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What We Stand For: Principals

Strengthening School Leadership

A White Paper by Tyler Whitmire for Stand for Children Leadership Center

Effective principals are critical to developing and ensuring effective teaching, improving student achievement, and turning around low-performing schools. Researchers find that about 60 percent of a school’s impact on student learning is attributable to educators: 25 percent to principals and 33 percent to teachers.  These figures actually understate the role of principals, because principals are responsible for hiring, developing, and retaining effective teachers. While an individual effective teacher can boost student learning in any given year, only the principal can ensure effective teaching in every classroom, across all grades. Unless students have multiple effective teachers in a row, nearly all the gains they make in one effective teacher’s classroom are erased in two years with less-effective teachers.

While all schools need effective principals, strong principal leadership is particularly important for low-performing schools in need of rapid improvement—and may be the deciding factor between success and failure. Researchers have not found a single example of a turnaround school without an effective principal at the helm.

The rest of this paper is available as a PDF download:

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Tyler Whitmire is currently developing and managing Stand for Children Leadership Center’s new family engagement program: Stand University for Parents. She recently contributed a chapter on family engagement to the book The Achievable Dream: College Board Lessons on Creating Great Schools.

About Stand for Children Leadership Center

Stand for Children Leadership Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides leadership development and training to everyday citizens. Our mission is to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, college and career training. To make that happen, we:

  • Educate and empower parents, teachers, and community members to demand excellent public schools.
  • Advocate for effective local, state and national education policies and investments.

  • Ensure the policies and funding we advocate for reach classrooms and help students.

Why Stand?

A message from Stand Leadership Center board member John Legend.

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