How Gwinnett County Public Schools is Scaling Effective School Leadership

Learn more about Eva Chiang.
Eva Chiang
Former Managing Director, Leadership and Programming
George W. Bush Institute

“Show me a great school, and I’ll show you a great principal.” President BushThis week the George W. Bush Institute’s...

“Show me a great school, and I’ll show you a great principal.” President Bush

This week the George W. Bush Institute’s Alliance to Reform Education Leadership (AREL) program released Gwinnett County Public Schools: A Systemic Approach to Scaling Effective School Leaderhip. This case study is a follow up to our previous Great Principals at Scale report, and it highlights Gwinnett’s approach to creating an intentionally systemic school leadership strategy to improve schools and raise student achievement.

Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), just outside of Atlanta, is the largest school district in Georgia, serving more than 174,000 students in 134 schools. The district was chosen as one of the Wallace Foundation’s six “Principal Pipeline” districts, and was a finalist for the highly prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education in 2009, won the Broad prize in 2010, and co-won the 2014 Broad prize, along with Orange County Public Schools. Most importantly, GCPS students outperform state averages on every metric tracked by the state of Georgia.

Under Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks’ leadership, the district has designed and implemented several in-house leadership development programs, including different programs that develop aspiring assistant principals, principals, and district-level leaders. This ensures that GCPS has the talent pipeline needed to fill assistant principal, principal, and other leadership vacancies with well-prepared and effective school leaders. The goal of these programs is to prepare school leaders to come to the job with substantial training, instructional knowledge, and an understanding of GCPS practices and policies.

In addition to development programs, Gwinnett sets policies, culture, and conditions that support effective school leaders. For example, the district’s central office manages things such as delivering an effective curriculum to schools and handling operational and logistical functions so that principals can focus on what’s most important—teaching and learning.

 To learn more about Gwinnett’s work and the Bush Institute’s education leadership focus, visit our webpage. You can share this case study on social media with #AREL #GreatPrincipals.