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Report: How Decision Makers Can Improve School Leadership Under ESSA

Report: How Decision Makers Can Improve School Leadership Under ESSA

The Rand Corporation has released a new report that provides leaders with yet another way to use and interpret the Every Student Succeeds Act to improve schools.

According to the report, School Leadership Interventions Under the Every Student Succeeds Act: Evidence Review, ESSA provides a series of unique opportunities for leaders at the federal, district and local level to support school leadership.

"ESSA expands opportunities for states and districts to use federal funding for initiatives that strive to improve the quality of school leaders," the report says.

Policymakers should focus on improving school leadership, the report says, because "[r]esearch points to the value and importance of school leaders in driving student achievement gains," as well as "suggests that school leadership could be an important lever for school-improvement strategies pursued by states and districts."

For one, the report recommends that policymakers use funds made available under ESSA to specifically improve school leadership.

Under the various funding opportunities that ESSA provides, the report says that decision makers can use the funds to improve school leadership by doing things like improving: 

  • the principal certification process
  • preservice preparation programs
  • professional development programs
  • recruitment and retraining processes
  • induction and mentoring programs that keep leaders in their positions

Because ESSA "privatizes more-rigorous evidence" while also "provid[ing] avenues to consider and build the evidence base for new and underresearched interventions," leaders are given a unique opportunity to improve school leadership policy and practice within their state.

The report then analyzes existing evidence on principal preparation programs, strategic staff management, professional learning, working conditions and leadership-focused school improvement models.

Administrators, educators and policymakers viewing the report are encouraged to use the analysis to best select and implement activities that benefit school leadership under ESSA.

To read the report in full, see here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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