Skip Navigation
Print Evaluations

Impact Evaluation of Support for Principals

Contract Information

Current Status:

Analysis of data collected and report writing are underway.


July 2014 – June 2019



Contract Number:



Mathematica Policy Research
American Institutes for Research
Pemberton Research
Vanderbilt University
Social Policy Research Associates


Principals can play an important role in the success of their schools, and there is widespread interest in the potential of intensive principal professional development programs to improve principals' performance. However, little is known about the effectiveness of these programs and their ability to improve principals' leadership skills and school quality. Title II, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act provides funding to support a broad array of activities for principals and teachers to improve their quality and effectiveness. This evaluation provides an important source of information for these programs by studying professional development and coaching for principals that focuses on instructional leadership, organizational leadership, and human capital management.

  • What are the professional development experiences of principals?
  • What are the initial impacts on school climate and educator behaviors of providing principals structured and intensive professional development?
  • What are the impacts on teacher retention, the effectiveness of instructional staff, and student achievement of providing principals with structured and intensive professional development?

Within 8 districts, the study team randomly assigned a total of 100 elementary schools to a treatment or control group. Treatment group principals were offered intensive professional development provided by the University of Washington's Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years. CEL was competitively selected to provide the professional development for this study. The professional development particularly emphasizes support in pursuing instructional leadership activities such as conducting school walkthroughs and classroom observations that focus on teachers' practices to improve their students' achievement. Control group principals received supports normally offered by the district.

Data collection in both years of implementation included: information about the professional development delivered and experienced by the principals participating in the intervention; teacher and principal surveys and periodic logs of principal daily activities to document intermediate outcomes such as principal behaviors and school climate; and administrative records to document student outcomes (e.g., achievement, behavior, and attendance) and teacher outcomes (e.g., retention of effective teachers and the quality of newly-hired teachers). These data will be analyzed to address the study's three research questions.

Key findings will be available after the study report is published.

The report for the study is expected in 2019 and will be announced on