NAESP Releases New Report on the Principalship

NAESP Releases New Report on the Principalship

Social-emotional learning emerges as a top issue of concern for elementary principals.

Alexandria, VA—June 6, 2018—Social-emotional learning, mental health, and student poverty are among the top student-related concerns of Pre-K through grade 8 principals, according to The Pre-K-8 School Leader in 2018: A 10-Year Study. The new study is the ninth in a series published by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Since 1928, NAESP has reviewed the trends and working conditions of principal leadership, as well as their impact on the students and the entire school community.

“School principals set the tone for everything from school climate to school improvement. That is why we need to know more about their experiences,” said NAESP Executive Director Dr. L. Earl Franks, CAE. “It’s essential that policymakers focus on what principals identify as their leaning needs, and then support them with associated professional learning opportunities.”

The study reviews data in 10 areas, including:

  • Experience and professional preparation;
  • Accountability and decision-making;
  • Conditions of employment;
  • Professional learning needs; and
  • Future career intentions.

NAESP partnered with the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) to develop this resource. “The quality of education a student experiences in elementary school greatly impacts their education and life trajectory, and research has demonstrated that educational leaders strongly shape the conditions for high-quality teaching and learning,” said UCEA Executive Director Michelle Young. “The NAESP 10-year study provides a portrait of these critical educational professionals, their concerns, their triumphs and key considerations for educational stakeholders. It not only provides vivid insight into the work of contemporary elementary school leaders, but it also identifies multiple avenues for future research.”

“Recent research has shown that 20 percent of principals leave their positions each year, with almost 30 percent of principals in high-poverty schools leaving each year. In fact, the average school tenure of a principal is less than five years,” said Ed Fuller, who is UCEA Associate Director for Policy and one of the report authors. “This high rate of churn has negative effects on both teachers and students as well as costs districts a substantial amount of money. Some emerging research suggests that the working conditions of principals substantially affects their decisions to stay in a school. Moreover, working conditions appear to also affect their effectiveness on the job. Thus, understanding how to better support principals in the important work they do is critical to improving schools.”

Responses to the 2018 NAESP 10-year study identify multiple areas of professional development need, including improving student performance, improving staff performance, understanding and applying technology, time management, using social media effectively, and school improvement planning.

Read the full report here.


About NAESP
Principals are the primary catalysts for creating lasting foundations for learning. Since 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) has been the leading advocate for elementary and middle-level principals in the United States and worldwide. NAESP advances the profession by developing policy, advancing advocacy, and providing professional development and resources for instructional leadership, including specialized support and mentoring for early career principals. Key focus areas include pre-K-3 education, school safety, technology and digital learning, and effective educator evaluation. For more information about NAESP, please visit www.naesp.org. NAESP administers the National Principals Resource Center, the American Student Council Association, and the President’s Education Awards & American Citizenship Awards Programs.

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