Principal and Educator Support and Preparation

School principals and classroom teachers are the two most important in-school factors for student achievement. NAESP’s Leaders We Need Now research series found that the job stresses of recent years would lead to higher turnover of school leaders and educators post-pandemic. In fact, 16 percent of principals left their schools at the end of the 2021-22 school year, according to a 2023 RAND research brief survey. Among high-poverty districts, that number was 23 percent and among rural districts the departure rate was 32 percent.  

While educators are leaving the profession, “the number of new entrants into teaching has decreased by one-third over the past decade, with the number of newly licensed teachers dropping from 320,000 in 2006 to 215,000 in 2020,” according to a Brown University paper. Amidst this historic squeeze of more educators leaving and fewer entering, demand for employment of elementary, middle, and high school principals also grew 6 percent nationwide in 2022. 

NAESP believes that:

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The role of the principal demands a high level of professional preparation and continued growth.

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All states should require principals to be licensed or certified according to standards that align with research on effective school leadership.

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School districts and preparation programs should provide opportunities for additional internships, peer coaching, job shadowing, networking, and mentorships for aspiring principals.

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All principals, regardless of years of experience, should receive mentoring/coaching, professional learning opportunities, and be active members in professional associations.

NAESP recommends the following policies and legislation to address these challenges for educators and especially school leaders:

  • Bolster investments in retention strategies
  • Expand professional development opportunities
  • Replenish the educator pipeline
  • Strengthen pre-service preparation

Take Action

NAESP focuses on improving the policies and programs that affect how principals are prepared in pre-service programs. Visit NAESP’s Advocacy Action Center to see how you can support your students and school.

Source: NAESP Pulse Survey Results, 2022