The Effects of a Principal Professional Development Program Focused on Instructional Leadership

Publisher: Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education
Oct 30, 2019
Mariesa Herrmann, Melissa Clark, Susanne James-Burdumy, Christina Tuttle, Tim Kautz, Virginia Knechtel, Dallas Dotter, Claire Smither Wulsin, and John Deke

Principals can play a key role in improving instruction and student achievement. The Institute of Education Sciences conducted a random assignment study of a professional development program for elementary school principals to support state and local efforts to improve school leadership. The program focused on helping principals conduct structured observations of teachers’ classroom instruction and provide targeted feedback. It provided nearly 200 hours of professional development over two years, half of it through individualized coaching.

Key findings include:

  • Despite substantially increasing the amount of professional development principals received, the program did not affect student achievement or most teacher or school outcomes. For example, the professional development did not affect school climate or principal retention
  • The program did not have the intended effects on principal practices that it targeted, which may explain its lack of effects on key student, teacher, and school outcomes. For example, it decreased the frequency of instructional support and feedback teachers received from principals, and it did not affect the number of teacher observations principals conducted or the usefulness of the feedback as reported by teachers.


Senior Staff

Susanne James-Burdumy
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Tim Kautz
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Mariesa Herrmann
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John Deke
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Melissa Clark
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Christina Tuttle
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