Friday, October 19, 2012

With potential principal retirements on horizon, Iowa has opportunity to plan for strong school leaders

Seattle, WA - Iowa may need to replace a sizable share of its principal workforce over the next five to ten years, representing both a challenge and an opportunity for schools and communities statewide.

A new analysis from the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) finds that nearly half of Iowa’s principals will be eligible for retirement in the next five years. These principals are in schools spread evenly geographically and by student poverty level. Collectively, principals eligible for retirement oversee more than 168,000 students, nearly half of all students in the state.

In Principal Concerns: Iowa May Face Statewide Demand, CRPE researchers Michael DeArmond and Monica Ouijdani suggest that the widespread nature of these potential retirements underscores the state’s role in supporting districts facing vacancies. For example, Iowa is in a position to help identify principal preparation programs that graduate the most effective school leaders and to design policies and incentives to get the right leaders into the right jobs.

Principals are a critical driver of school success. With potential retirements on the horizon and strong leaders in short supply, states like Iowa need to act now to shape broad, comprehensive solutions that improve the job, attract the most promising candidates, and get them into the schools that need them most.

CRPE released a report in September that provides state policymakers with a set of tools to help them diagnose their principal workforce needs and develop comprehensive strategies to recruit, prepare, and support a new generation of strong school leaders. That report also suggests a number of specific actions states can take, such as providing more autonomy to principals, limiting barriers to credentialing, and making mentors out of high-performing principals.

Leadership needs vary by state and require customized solutions. This analysis of Iowa’s principal workforce is the first in a series of state-specific briefs. CRPE’s state analyses and tools for policymakers can help states like Iowa use upcoming retirements as an opportunity to craft smart policies that redesign the job to attract talented, entrepreneurial school leaders ready for the challenges ahead.

Analyses of Wisconsin and Indiana will be coming soon. Tools for policymakers (the State Principal Data Guide and Principal Pipeline Framework) can be found in Principal Concerns: Leadership Data and Strategies for States, by Christine Campbell and Betheny Gross.

CONTACT: Debra Britt