Strong school leadership is critical for improving school performance, but to be effective, school leaders (principals, assistant principals, and principal managers) need strong preparation. A growing number of education leaders and policymakers are working to improve the quality of educational administration programs in their state. The report and tools on this website are designed to inform these efforts.

The State Evaluation of Principal Preparation Programs Toolkit (SEP3 Toolkit) offers guidance and recommendations on how states can improve principal preparation by increasing the depth and rigor of their preparation evaluation process, thus enabling them to accurately assess quality, promote program improvement, and intervene when performance is not satisfactory. The report also reviews contextual factors that states should consider when adapting the recommendations to local conditions, and includes supplementary resources and tools to help states carry out the work. Together, these materials will allow states to undertake an informed and sophisticated approach to the complex work of improving principal preparation.

Why Should States Engage In This Work?
States are uniquely positioned to influence the quality of principal preparation programs because most have relevant statutory authority. Despite their central role in authorizing principal preparation programs and issuing principal licenses, states lack strong models for assessing the quality of programs to promote improvement. We see two central problems of practice for states and programs:

  1. Evaluations should be informed by data about program quality and outcomes but state systems for collecting and interpreting data are often too limited to support such an approach (i.e., they lack direct measures of program quality and outcomes and the available data for indirect measures are insufficient or of low quality); and
  2. Evaluations should be diagnostic in nature, drawing on data about program quality to inform inquiries into the sources of success and improvement, as well as areas of concern. However, state evaluation systems are generally not set up to use data in this way and states often lack the necessary capacity for diagnosis and support.
Regardless of where authority is located within state government (e.g., in some states, all of the relevant authority resides with the state board of education and the state education agency, while in others it is held by a professional standards board or is shared across multiple agencies), this guide offers recommendations and guidance for addressing these two problems of practice.

What Does the SEP3 Toolkit Include?
The SEP3 Toolkit begins with a guide that lays out a set of design principles to which all effective program evaluation systems should adhere, and introduces a model program evaluation process. It also includes a set of concrete tools to assist states in taking on this work, and a set of resources that provide background information. For links and summaries of each document in the toolkit, visit the SEP3 Toolkit page.