A Conceptual Framework for Principal Succession Planning: Key to School Improvement

A Conceptual Framework for
Principal Succession Planning:
Key to School Improvement
Jon Schmidt-Davis, SREB
2011 Annual Leadership Forum
Atlanta, May 5, 2011
The problem
• We need about 20,000 new principals a year
• Too many districts engaging in a “hire and hope”
• Joseph Bower: “You could summarize [the typical]
approach as ‘test tube development.’ Put a
manager in a test tube, turn up the heat, and see
what you get. If you don’t get what you want, get
another manager, and heat up another test tube.”
Silent Spring
• We’re in a race to the bottom as we burn
through school leaders who can’t do what’s
being asked of them
• It’s not a problem of quantity, it’s a problem
of quality – Wallace made that clear 7 years
ago in Beyond the Pipeline
All the news that’s fit to print
The plan to
turnaround the
lowest 5% of schools
all require new
principals but –
where are they going
to come from??
The Fullan-Fuller&Young Conundrum:
Schools requiring the most time to change have
principal tenure
Fullan: Years to effect change
Fuller & Young: Average
principal tenure
Elementary Schools
High Schools
The Framework: A Virtuous Circle
Four quadrants of succession
I: Talent Identification
Superintendent must take the lead
Great if superintendents get in and teach PD
HR should facilitate and manage the process
Should start early in teachers’ careers
You want people who are good teachers – but
there’s “the quarterback problem”
Leadership standards are critical
• Screen for a small number of competencies –
focus on 5 or 6
• Set of competencies adapted from Dell:
Mental agility
Student focus
Instructional expertise
Building teams
Motivating others
• Evaluate on not just “What,” but “How.” Not
just performance measures, but values.
• Use a readiness rating scheme:
– ready now
– ready in 2-3 years
– ready in 3-5 years
II: Talent Development
• Malcolm Gladwell and 10,000 hour rule
– Bill Gates
– Wayne Gretzky
– The Beatles
• 80/20 rule at GE, Eli Lilly, other top companies
So – is this how we do it in education?
Stretch assignments
• Can’t be like the aspiring leader who was “never put in a
situation where I could fail.”
• Instructional leadership teams
• Curriculum teams
• Cross-district teams
• School improvement planning
• Peer observations
• Schools have enough problems for challenging leadership
Stepping stones
• ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL: can’t afford to
give them the 3 B’s and forget them
• Assistant to the principal positions in TN
• Teacher-in-charge positions in MD
• Literacy, math and graduation coaches
• Teacher leaders
• District’s job to create these positions
“The real challenge of leadership is to bring
along the people who start off doing it badly
and not just bring along the people who
already look like they can do it well.”
~ Andy Hargreaves
III: Selection
• Identify for a pool, select for a school
• Ensure you have enough candidates
– Dow Chemical – multiplies its attrition rate by three to
determine size of pool
– Sonoco – requires every manager to identify internal
• Move the right person into the right job for the
right reasons
• No one’s ordained
“Great leaders develop those around them
at a fast rate and in high numbers, so much
so that the organization cannot absorb them
soon enough. Stated differently, leaders
who develop other leaders provide a farm
system for other organizations.”
~ Michael Fullan
IV. Socialization and support
“One of the reasons that aspirants fail [is] …they’re put
into very difficult positions. One of the reasons the position
is open and that no other principal with seniority has
attempted to transfer into it or secure it is it’s not a great
position. So they go into positions with limited experience
and into a place that probably has some significant
~ Ed Miley
How to support new leaders
• Remember the 80/20 rule
• At least two years quality mentoring
• Peer support: this is why cohort model is
• Identify “derailments” and guard against
• Onboarding plan
Onboarding plan
(goes way beyond handing just handing them the keys)
• Lists of key relationships to build
• Lists of critical knowledge to master
• Clear expectations for first 45 days, first 90
days, first year
• Formative 360 feedback early in first year
• Peer networking plan with district support
V. Evaluate, reflect and improve
Use quality evaluations for the new leaders
so that
1. They know where they are in their
2. Districts and states know strengths of
leadership pools
3. There is feedback for preparation
VI. Developing new leaders
• Expectation that leaders develop their
staff as leaders
• Distributed leadership and use of
• Leaders participating in PD with staff
Kudos to Alabama on this
Standard 3 of AL’s leadership standards is
human capital development:
3-1. Knowledge to set high expectations and standards for the performance of
all teachers and staff
3-3. Ability to work collaboratively with teachers to plan for individual
professional development
3-13. Ability to create a community of learners among faculty and staff
3-15. Ability to foster development of aspiring leaders, including teacher