Developing Strong Education Leaders in Illinois
In 2010, Illinois became the first state to create a PreK-12 principal endorsement requiring preparation programs in early education, special education, and English Language Learning coursework and field experiences for aspiring school leaders. Those policy changes became law in 2010 and went into effect in 2014. With more than 860 school districts and 400 principal vacancies each year, these new requirements provide an opportunity to transform the principal pipeline in the state to ensure that school leaders demonstrate both managerial and instructional leadership skills.
Research commissioned by the McCormick Foundation on the implementation of the new requirements has identified some early concerns from principal preparation programs. One concern is that the more rigorous program requirements will lead to a decrease in the supply of principals in the state thereby negatively affecting districts and schools. While there is no data confirming this, it's a potential issue that may need to be addressed.
A recent white paper, released by Illinois State University on principal supply and demand, addressed these concerns and outlined what can and cannot be concluded from the available data. Researchers also provided recommendations on ways Illinois can create and sustain a healthy supply of high quality principals. Those strategies include:
- Developing a longitudinal data system that collects and stores a wide variety of metrics that can more accurately inform principal supply and demand
- Identifying regional differences in principal supply and demand, and distribute resources accordingly
- Establishing and implementing talent management efforts that improve requirement, selection, training and retention
Overall, principal preparation programs and school districts strongly believe that the new requirements will attract higher quality candidates and improve practices statewide. The Foundation’s education grantees continue to partner with private and public stakeholders on implementing a state plan to advance the preparation and development of future school leaders.