Elevating School Leadership in ESSA Plans: A Guide for States

Front page of ESSA School Leadership Guide

Access the Elevating School Leadership in ESSA Plans Guide Here

By Chris Minnich
Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers

Principals make an enormous difference in students’ education. After teachers, research shows there’s no more important school-related influence on student learning than school leadership. Good principals, experts note, contribute to a “multiplier effect,” influencing not just one classroom, but all classrooms in a school.

Great principals hire great teachers, and teachers say a good principal is their number one reason for staying in a school. And nowhere is this more crucial than in our nation’s most challenged schools. Research has found virtually no instances of troubled schools turning around without effective principals.

Principals matter, and this is a critical moment for states and districts to use school leadership as a lever of change.

The Every Student Succeeds Act provides a long-term, stable federal policy that gives states additional flexibility and encourages states and schools to innovate. This law also gives states and local districts new opportunities to fund school leadership – both principals and their supervisors. Taking advantage of those opportunities will enable states and districts to place effective principals in schools. ESSA also requires and encourages the use of evidence-based approaches that can help improve student outcomes.

CCSSO developed this guide to help states use those new ESSA opportunities to elevate school leadership as states and districts draft their education plans. This guide helps states think through their strategic visions for education and how leadership fits into that. By using this guide, every state can gain a better understanding of the opportunities to invest in school leadership under ESSA as well as the ways to determine the best leadership activities to meet your state’s needs.

This guide will evolve as ESSA evolves. CCSSO will continue to add to it so please come back to this resource. I hope every state finds this guide valuable as you continue to seize these new opportunities under ESSA and find effective ways to put more outstanding leaders in every school across the country.

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