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School Leadership Initiative

Rooted in President and Mrs. Bush’s belief that “excellent schools must first have excellent leaders,” the Bush Institute developed the School Leadership Initiative to dramatically improve the way our Nation’s principals are prepared and supported.

The School Leadership Initiative is equipping four school districts to find, support, and retain effective principals through a three year district cohort project to help them implement best practices on principal talent management strategies that have been identified in research by our experts. By working with central office teams that include finance, human resources, academics, professional development, principals, and principal supervisors, the Bush Institute will help districts make system level changes.  Those changes will support and improve highly effective school leadership in the district, and, in turn, will improve student achievement.

Principal Talent Management

At the core of the School Leadership initiative is the Principal Talent Management Framework based on research from the Bush Institute. The Principal Talent Management Framework is an evidence-based pathway for districts to attract, develop, and retain high-quality principals. The Framework represents a distillation of the best research available on principal talent management strategies. 

Read the Framework

Effective Implementation

The Effective Implementation Framework is the companion to the Principal Talent Management Framework.  It is just as important to know how to make lasting changes in practice and policy as it is to know what changes to make.  Many schools and districts struggle with effective implementation across education initiatives; the Bush Institute seeks to better understand both the barriers to implementation as well as what supports are most effective in creating and supporting change over time.



Research shows that principals account for 25% of a school’s total impact on student achievement.

School Leadership District Cohort

The following school districts were selected to participate in the District Cohort:

  • Austin Independent School District (Austin, TX)
  • Fort Worth Independent School District (Forth Worth, TX)
  • Chesterfield County Public Schools (Chesterfield, VA)
  • Granite School District (Salt Lake City, UT)

“We have chosen four school districts that understand how critical school leadership is to improving student outcomes,” said Eva Chiang, Director of Research and Evaluation at the Bush Institute. “We are eager to use our research to help these school districts improve their policies and practices for preparing, supporting, and retaining the best principals.”

Recommended Resources

Since its launch, the School Leadership Initiative has convened partners, highlighted gaps in research and practice, and created case studies and tools for school districts.

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Principals develop great teachers and create working conditions that keep those great teachers in the field.

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