The Wallace Foundation released a four-part video series exploring Illinois’ bold actions to revamp the way school principals are prepared. The state required all of its approved programs to reapply for accreditation under higher standards, based on research about effective principal preparation.
In the past, educators in Illinois who wanted to become principals merely had to get a general administrative license that was used for a wide variety of positions in education. Large numbers of teachers and other school officials were enrolled in these programs, but mostly to earn credentials and get raises, not to become principals, according to state policymakers interviewed in the videos. At the same time, districts complained that they couldn’t find qualified candidates prepared to lead teaching and learning in their schools.
In 2010, Illinois passed the tougher law, and the results were dramatic. Instead of 31 programs with about 7,600 students enrolled, Illinois now has 26 programs with fewer than 700 candidates – but these are people who actually want to lead schools and were willing to undergo much more rigorous training to do so.
The four-part video series, A Bold Move to Better Prepare Principals: The Illinois Story, begins with the tale of how the state of Illinois and its partners, including universities, districts and teachers’ unions, accomplished this change.