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Operating In the Dark In Dallas

February 26, 2013 3 minute Read by Kerry Ann Moll

This week the Dallas Morning News reports on the Alliance to Reform Education Leadership’s (AREL) State Principal Policy Report: Operating in the Dark: What Outdated State Policies and Data Gaps Mean for Effective School Leadership, with reporter William McKenzie following up on how the report relates to principals in Texas and specifically Dallas.


The article states, “The report, Operating in the Dark, found that 19 states cannot report the number of annual graduates from the principal prep programs their state has approved. And 28 states do not collect data about those programs to know if the graduates even become principals and how well they perform on the job. What’s more, only six states require principals to show they are effective to renew their licenses.”


Operating in the Dark is a first-of-its-kind compilation of state-reported data on how the 50 states and the District of Columbia are using their authority to increase the supply of high-quality principals. Research shows the United States faces a shortage of high-quality school leaders at a time when it is more apparent than ever that principals are key to attracting and retaining teacher talent and driving the improvement of student learning.  Through AREL’s new report, the Bush Institute intends to shed light on where states are “operating in the dark” concerning their approach to principal preparation, licensure and data collection and determine action-orientated solutions intended to boost student achievement.  The Bush Institute believes that every child deserves a great principal and AREL’s first report looks at the states’ roles in making this mission a reality.


When looking specifically at Texas, McKenzie notes “We were one of 27 states that require effective leadership elements in our standards for principals. That’s a plus. But we were not one of those six states that require principals to show they are effective before getting their licenses renewed.”


McKenzie highlights reforms the Dallas Independent School District is taking to support and train their principals. Superintendent Mike Miles has been using data and monthly update meetings to improve Dallas teachers and leaders, in addition to a new academy for school leaders launched by Miles.  “The first class graduates this year, and members will have a chance to become a principal or assistant principal in one of Dallas’ 223 schools.”


I sat down with Bill McKenzie to talk further about AREL, Operating In the Dark, and how we can improve school leadership across the country. To watch the interview please click here.