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2013: The Year of the Principal

February 1, 2013 by Kerry Ann Moll

Last week I was proud to reflect on the Alliance to Reform Education Leadership’s (AREL) accomplishments of the past year.  It was an absolute honor to work alongside our 28 Network programs, successful school leaders and so many other dedicated individuals.  And while I am encouraged by the progress made for America’s school leaders and the increasing national focus on the principalship, I am even more dedicated to ensuring that AREL’s mission to redefine the role of and empower America’s school leaders is further executed throughout 2013. As the New Year opens, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few highlights of the work AREL has planned in the months ahead, as I have a good feeling that 2013 will come to be known as “the year of the principal.” The backbone and heart of AREL’s efforts are its 28 Network principal preparation program affiliates.  I have continuously been impressed by the dedication of each preparation program to graduate highly effective school leaders with an intense focus on raising student achievement.  I truly believe the impact of these programs for our Nation’s students will be life changing and that their graduates will alter the educational landscape toward positive gains.  To this end, I am excited to announce that AREL will be launching its “Spotlight on Leadership” series in February.  This series will appear on the Bush Center Blog and will chronicle the many success stories of AREL’s programs, their staff and their graduates.  Whenever I interact with an AREL affiliated team member or school leader, I am inspired by their stories of student success and know you, our supporters and our readers, will be as well.  From New York City to Los Angeles, AREL graduates are turning around schools and giving students across our country the quality education they deserve.  For these reasons, I hope you follow AREL’s “Spotlight on Leadership” series so you, too, can experience the inspirational stories about those I am privileged to called colleagues. Because we know principals are an integral part of the student success equation, AREL’s team will be engaging in a campaign to further engage the country in a conversation about the importance of school leadership. This strategy will include guest blogging, authoring local and national interest pieces and encouraging supporters of school leadership to publically discuss the importance of a principal in a child’s education. I encourage you to follow the Bush Institute’s Education Reform team on Twitter - @KerryAnnMoll, @KlBWrites, @PatrickKobler - and sign up for our Bush Institute education reform updates so you can receive all AREL-related blogs, interest pieces and national articles on school leadership. In addition to spotlighting the critical role of school leaders in education, providing support to our 28 principal preparation programs and highlighting the success of the AREL Network, 2013 will showcase AREL’s first significant policy work concerning our Nation’s principals. Throughout 2012, AREL collected data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia to learn more about state laws, rules, and regulations impacting principal preparation and licensure.  This February, AREL will release a full policy report and interactive website regarding the findings from our 50 State Policy Report.  This is the first-ever data collection of this sort and will give our Nation its first comprehensive look at what every state and the District of Columbia are doing on principal preparation licensure and certification. Another policy report to be released later this year will focus on developing the district conditions necessary for school leaders to successfully raise student achievement.  Last year, AREL and New Leaders twice convened several AREL programs, leading researchers and district experts for this “Effective Conditions Project.” The findings of these combined convenings will be published this summer. I am also excited to work with several of AREL’s programs to further develop best practices for principal preparation programs and for district development of school leaders.  The first of these partnerships will be KIPP’s Leadership Design Fellowship.  AREL will also continue to convene national experts, exemplary school leaders and Network affiliates to codify best practices for preparation programs and successful district development of school leaders.  We expect this work to lead to three additional best practice reports to be released throughout 2013 and into 2014. As you can see, there is much work to be done and while our ambitious agenda will require tenacity and dedication, I am excited about the potential 2013 holds for AREL, its Network and for school leaders throughout the Nation.  Please follow our work as I am confident that together we can redefine the role of and empower school leaders and, ultimately, raise student achievement.

This blog was written by Dr. Kerry Moll, Director for The Alliance to Reform Education Leadership (AREL) at the George W. Bush Institute, and Patrick Kobler, Program Coordinator for The Alliance to Reform Education Leadership (AREL) at the George W. Bush Institute. You can follow them on Twitter @KerryAnnMoll and @PatrickKobler