Prioritizing Principals Guidebook

Learn more about Gina Ikemoto.
Gina Ikemoto
Content Advisor
George W. Bush Institute

Two sets of central office practices that enable true partnerships between central office and principals.

Principals play a critical role in school improvement and student success. Research shows that principals are second only to teachers in school-level factors that affect student achievement. A recent review found that replacing a below-average principal with an above-average principal tended to have larger impacts on student learning than other educational interventions. The principal role is particularly important in low-performing schools, where improvement does not occur without strong leadership.

Strong principals ensure that the school culture, instruction, staffing, and systems are all designed to support the achievement of every student. Principals have a multiplier effect, transforming classroom pockets of excellence into schoolwide systems of effective practice. Principals also play an important role in improving equity by disrupting systems of inequality and fostering culturally responsive classrooms. Strong principals are great bosses.

Principals need the support of their district’s central office in order to lead their campuses well. This guidebook addresses how the structure and behavior of central office teams can make or break what happens on campuses. Those who are organized and authentically operate with a students-first mentality support the equitable achievement of all students. Those who are focused on compliance and nonstudent-focused outcomes can distract and disrupt the work of principals.