Addressing the Challenge of Preparing Assistant Principals for the Principalship in Moore County

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Locklair, Tim

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East Carolina University


This problem of practice study attempted to address the challenge of preparing assistant principals for the principalship in Moore County. Across the nation and state, it is a challenge to fill vacant principalships with quality candidates. This problem is magnified in rural school districts. Moore County has had an over 34% principal turnover rate over the last two years. While this turnover on its own was not necessarily negative, it did indicate the strategic need for Moore County to build a pipeline of principal ready candidates. Utilizing a Plan, Do, Study, Act improvement science process, a school leadership academy that involved a small cohort of 9 assistant principals was designed and implemented to address this problem. The design included year-long face-to-face meetings; internal and external professional learning opportunities; standards-based leadership assessments; exposure to leadership experts; and a principal screening interview. The data and observations from this study indicate that this improvement strategy had a positive impact on the problem. Additional recommendations and implications are shared that are applicable to principal preparation programs and school district leadership development initiatives.