A concerted effort to hire, train and mentor strong principals led to significant increases in test scores and longer tenure for those leaders, according to a new report from The RAND Corporation. Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools details the impact of The Wallace Foundation's six-year, $85 million investment in the financial and technical support needed for six school districts to create pipelines for developing school leaders. The districts are Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.; Denver; Gwinnett County, Ga.; Hillsborough County, Fla.; New York City; and Prince George's County, Md.
The RAND team, led by Susan Gates, found that schools led by these pipeline principals scored 6.22 percentage points higher in reading and 2.87 percentage points higher in math after three years, when compared to similar schools without these leaders. The new principals were also more likely than those at comparison schools to remain in their positions for at least three years. Some of the strongest gains came in the lowest performing schools. The report estimates that the initiative cost about $42 per pupil a year.