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A Matter of Principals

January 2004 / Education / Abell Reports

The Kindergarten to Grade 12 Public School Leaders Maryland Needs, and How To Get Them

For the majority of Marylanders, the most visible and influential education leader is the principal of the local school. With the demands of “No Child Left Behind” and other State testing, these leaders are critical and in short supply: the State Department of Education estimates that Maryland will need 125 new principals of the highest caliber by August 2004.

In this article, education scholar Frederick M. Hess asserts that the dearth of school leaders is at least partially self-imposed by Maryland’s reliance on archaic principal certification requirements. Dr. Hess argues that this approach limits the field by insisting upon traditionally trained and accredited educators despite the fact that there is no evidence proving these criteria lead to more effective principals.

In order to cast a wider net, Dr. Hess recommends that Maryland promote and expand its existing alternative principal certification as well as encourage individual school districts to change principal recruiting and training programs.