Policy Work


UCEA offers a number of in-depth peer-reviewed analyses of specific public policy issues written by Independent UCEA Researchers.

A Deeper Look- INSPIRE Data Demonstrates Quality in Educational Leadership Preparation

Deeper LookThis report analyzes and synthesizes data drawn from UCEA institutions that participated in the INSPIRE Preparation Program Survey. It offers valid and relevant evidence that contributes to the broad, national conversation pertaining to current educational leadership preparation programming. The evidence reflects UCEA’s expectation of continuous improvement, even as many UCEA programs already are regarded by the field as high-quality.

The analysis reveals that UCEA programs have incorporated program design elements and practices that reflect research evidence for high-quality preparation including:          

  • Alignment to Professional Standards
  • Partnerships with Districts
  • Mentoring for Candidates and Novice Leaders
  • Clinical Experience in Schools with Diverse Student Populations
  • Accessible Program Scheduling
  • Course Instruction Provided by Highly Qualified Faculty
  • Multiple Assessment Practices
  • Career Support

A Deeper Look: INSPIRE Data Demonstrates Quality Practices in Leadership Preparation, clearly distinguishes UCEA institutions from other preparation programs in the United States.

A Policymaker’s Guide: Research-Based Policy for Principal Preparation Program Approval and Licensure (October 2015)

Although tremendous attention is paid to ranking and grading schools, districts, and other educational entities, state policies guiding the approval of leadership preparation programs and the licensure of educational leaders have received relatively limited attention. A Policymaker’s Guide: Research-Based Policy for Principal Preparation Program Approval and Licensure explores state legislative code, rules and regulations,and State Board of Education documents for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

A Policy Guide

Policy Briefs

UCEA’s Policy Briefs on Educational Leadership and Policy are short papers that convey policy problems, highlight implications and outline courses of action to resolve them. Each brief begins with an assessment of a current issue, then critiques existing policies, and concludes with policy recommendations. The views expressed in these policy briefs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UCEA or member institutions.

Leveraging the Federal Role in Developing High Quality Principal Preparation under Title II
Under Title II of ESSA, provisions are specifically included to develop high quality principals.This brief therefore discusses two cost effective, politically feasible strategies the federal government can employ under Title II-1) competitive grants and 2) monitoring return on investment-as a means to leverage high quality principal preparation nationally.

P-12 Leadership and University Partnerships

There is an urgent need for state-level policies to support the creation of sustainable school district and university principal preparation partnerships. We know strong partnerships between universities and school districts lead to more effective principal preparation programs, yet nearly 90% of superintendents nationally report that such partnerships develop infrequently at best within their districts. This brief offers recommendations for state policymakers encouraging partnerships and evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of partnerships.

Impact of Principal Turnover

Principal turnover occurs for both voluntary and involuntary reasons, however relatively few principals are dismissed for performance each year. Some turnover is due to principals transferring schools, as principals move to more affluent, better achieving school districts with higher pay. This brief discusses the impact of principal turnover on student outcomes, teacher turnover and decreased capacity building.

Increasing Diversity in K-12 School Leadership

Principals represent the most ‘visible’ form of leadership in schools, but current workforce data show that K-12 school principals are overwhelmingly white and fail to reflect the diversity within the student population. With increased policy focus on teacher diversity, equal attention must also be directed towards the lack of diversity within school leadership. This policy brief details why increasing diversity in K-12 school leadership can improve overall diversity in the teacher workforce and work to support empowered schools. 

The Role of Principals in  Reducing Teacher Turnover and the Shortage of Teachers

New research has identified teacher working conditions as having a greater effect on teacher turnover than most other factors, including student achievement and student characteristics. Importantly, research has debunked the conventional wisdom that teachers often leave schools because of student characteristics. This brief discusses how teacher working conditions provide an avenue to reduce teacher turnover and lessen the severity of teacher shortages.

Addressing the Importance and Scale of the U.S. Teacher Shortage

Teacher shortages pose a major challenge for state policy makers, district leaders, and school leaders. Importantly, however, the severity of the shortage differs by the particular dynamics of state -and local- teacher labor markets with some regions and states experiencing more severe shortages than others. This brief examines the elements of the shortage of teachers and concludes with recommendations for policymakers at all levels of the education system.

Recruitment and Selection of Educational Leadership Candidates

This UCEA policy brief was created in response to a call from the U.S. Department of Education seeking comments from the field regarding, “strategies to recruit, develop, and retain teachers and leaders (Title II).”    It draws from the research base in educational leadership preparation to propose a series of recommendations to improve current state policy and school leadership preparation program (SLPP) practices around the recruitment and selection of aspirant principal candidates.

State Evaluation of Principal Preparation Programs

This UCEA policy brief was created in response to a call from the U.S. Department of Education seeking comments from the field regarding, “areas where state and local agencies could benefit from additional guidance.”  It draws from the research base in educational leadership preparation to offer support to states seeking to improve their evaluation of principal preparation programs and offers high-impact state policy examples.

AREL Report Leaves Much In the Dark – An Appraisal of AREL’S Recommendations for State Action

On February 5, 2013, the George W. Bush Institute released the report, Operating in the Dark: What Outdated State Policies and Data Gaps Mean for Effective School Leadership,1 produced by the Institute’s Alliance to Reform Education Leadership (AREL). Clearly, the development of a strong pipeline of school leaders is essential for increasing student learning and success in every school, and strategic state action that supports such a pipeline is critical. The University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) applauds AREL’s effort to shed light on this important issue.

Quality Leadership Matters

The educational challenge of the 21st century is to achieve higher levels of learning for all children. This theme has become the overarching issue on the nation’s domestic policy agenda as evidenced by the bi-partisan passage of NCLB. The policy levers engaged to address this challenge include increased accountability through state developed testing systems, increased competition through parental choice, and increased investment in improving teacher quality. There remains, however, another important policy lever that has been overlooked: investment in school leadership quality and stability.

Advancing from Preparation to Leadership Positions: The Influence of Time, Institution & Demographics

Differences in career advancement rates among aspiring leaders and their programs provide useful frameworks for understanding both program influence and advancement challenges. These differences suggest program, district and state interventions and follow up support to improve the fit and advancement of graduates into the leadership field.

The Revolving Door of the Principalship

Selecting and retaining quality principals is critical to improving and sustaining school success. With better understanding of the prevalence and consequences of principal turnover rates and disparities across contexts, districts and states can implement policies and programs that will increase principal retention and success. Data drawn from Texas educational employment files provides a basis for inquiry into this problem.