Changing the Principal Supervisor Role to Better Support Principals: Evidence from the Principal Supervisor Initiative

Publisher: Mathematica and Vanderbilt University
Jul 21, 2020
Ellen B. Goldring, Melissa A. Clark, Mollie Rubin, Laura K. Rogers, Jason A. Grissom, Brian Gill, Tim Kautz, Moira McCullough, Michael Neel, and Alyson Burnett

Key Findings:

  • Districts and supervisors made substantial changes as a result of the PSI.
  • Principals’ perceptions of their work with their supervisor and their supervisor’s effectiveness improved.
  • The PSI did not improve teachers’ perceptions of principals’ performance.
  • The principal supervisor role in the PSI districts differed from that in other urban districts in several key ways, but there were also some important similarities in supervisors’ work with principals within the two types of districts.

In 2014, The Wallace Foundation launched the Principal Supervisor Initiative (PSI), a four-year, $24 million effort to redefine principal supervision in six urban school districts. The PSI aimed to help districts overhaul a position traditionally focused on administration, operations, and compliance to one dedicated to developing and supporting principals to be effective instructional leaders who had the skills to foster high quality instruction and learning.

In this study report, researchers from Mathematica and Vanderbilt University describe the PSI experiences of districts, principal supervisors, and principals; the PSI’s effects on teachers’ perceptions of principals’ performance; and lessons learned from the initiative.