The Role of Assistant Principals: Evidence and Insights for Advancing School Leadership

The Role of Assistant Principals: Evidence and Insights for Advancing School Leadership

Published: Apr 13, 2021
Publisher: The Wallace Foundation
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Associated Project

A Research Synthesis of the Role of Assistant Principals and Pathways to the Principalship

Time frame: 2019–2021

Prepared for:

The Wallace Foundation

Authors

Ellen Goldring

Mollie Rubin

Key Findings
  • Assistant principals have become more prevalent over the past 25 years.
  • Educators of color and women face barriers to advancement on the leadership pathway.
  • Assistant principals could promote improved school climate and student outcomes.
  • The relationship between assistant principal experience and future principal performance is mixed.

Over the past 25 years, the number of assistant principals has been steadily increasing, as has the number of principals with prior experience as an assistant principal. However, the knowledge base on assistant principals has not grown in parallel with their increased presence in schools. To help policymakers, practitioners, and researchers better understand the assistant principal role and leverage it to promote equity and school effectiveness, The Wallace Foundation commissioned a synthesis of research on assistant principals. In this report, researchers from Vanderbilt University and Mathematica synthesized research on assistant principals over the past 20 years and analyzed national and state data to fill gaps in the research and study trends.

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