School Principals

A school principal is the most senior teacher in a school and manages the day to day running of the institution. In the majority of schools in the United States the term principal is used, however some private schools prefer the British title of headmaster. The average salary for a school principal in the United States is $93,027 per annum. Most school principals are typically 49 (male) and 51 (female) years of age.

School principals in the United States are educated to bachelor or masters degree level. They also typically have at least seven years of experience working as a teacher before taking the role. They have a variety of roles to fulfil to ensure their students receive the best education and care possible while they are on campus, including developing the curriculum, staffing departments, reviewing faculty performance, and creating an atmosphere conducive to scholarly pursuits. They also ensure all school activities are within budgetary guidelines. Although they are in charge of the day to day running of their school, they typically report to a superintendent. Protecting students from crime is an everyday problem faced by school principals in America and between 2007 and 2008, 75 percent of public schools and 38 percent of private schools recorded one or more violent incidents of crime.

In 2001, the National Association of Elementary School Principals met in Washington, D.C. to redefine the role of principals in the 21st century. Today's principals must know state and federal goals, the latest and best technologies and teaching methods and how to use data to spot gaps in learning for all their students. The group also set six standards all school principals should work to achieve:

1. Making student learning and teacher training the school's primary focal points.

2. Assuring resources met high standards and they had high expectations for the academic and social development of all students, teachers and staff.

3. Acknowledging they should hire and retain high quality teachers and hold them responsible for student learning, whilst providing them with up-to-date technology and instructional materials.

4. Connecting professional development to school learning goals and provide opportunities for teachers to work, plan and think together.

5. Ensuring they considered a variety of data sources to assure performance

6. Sharing leadership and decision making with parents, teachers and the community.

In April 2010, plans were unveiled to introduce the Teacher and Principal Improvement Act, which for the first time in federal law would require school districts to establish rigorous, fair, and transparent evaluation systems to assess whether teachers and principals were having positive impacts on student learning. It was hoped the bill would help to provide professional development for all educators to foster a co-ordinated, school wide approach to improvement.

In 2004, statistics from The National Centre for Education revealed there were 118,610 school principals in the United States, with 90,470 overseeing pupils in public schools and 27,960 running private schools. The majority of school principals working in public American schools are white, with 82.3 percent accounting for all staff. 9.6 percent are black, 5.9 percent are Hispanic and 2.1 percent come from other ethnic minorities. The majority of public school principals, 29,170, work in rural areas and 25,880 school principals work in suburban schools. There were 21,560 overseeing the running of city schools and 13,860 work in schools based in towns.

When this number was broken down, it was discovered there were 62,340 school principals running elementary schools, 21,550 heading-up high schools and 6,580 overseeing a combination of both.

Some 36,830 school principals in America were responsible for the wellbeing of between 200 and 499 pupils. There were 20,290 running schools with 500 to 749 schoolchildren under their charge, and 8,760 overseeing the welfare of between 750 and 999 pupils. There were 9,120 school principals in charge of schools with 1,000 pupils or more, while those overseeing the education of pupils in schools with just 100 to 199 students accounted for 8,520 of head teachers. Finally, 6,950 principals ran schools of less than 100 pupils in the United States.

School Principals: Selected full-text books and articles

Qualities of Effective Principals By James H. Stronge; Holly B. Richard; Nancy Catano ASCD, 2008
The Training and Development of School Principals: A Handbook By Ward Sybouts; Frederick C. Wendel Greenwood Press, 1994
The New Principal's Fieldbook: Strategies for Success By Pam Robbins; Harvey Alvy Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2004
Staffing the Principalship: Finding, Coaching, and Mentoring School Leaders By Suzette Lovely Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2004
The Changing Principalship: Its Current Status, Variability, and Impact By Portin, Bradley S.; Shen, Jianping Journal of Leadership Studies, Vol. 5, No. 3, Summer 1998
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Developing Principals as Instructional Leaders By Fink, Elaine; Resnick, Lauren B Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 82, No. 8, April 2001
Successful School Improvement: The Implementation Perspective and Beyond By Michael G. Fullan Open University Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Role of the Principal and School Improvement"
Measuring Principals' Openness to Change on Three Dimensions: Affective, Cognitive and Behavioral By Klecker, Beverly M.; Loadman, William E Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 26, No. 4, December 1999
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Who Is Leading Our Schools? An Overview of School Administrators and Their Careers By Susan M. Gates; Jeanne S. Ringel; Lucrecia Santibañez; Karen E. Ross; Catherine H. Chung Rand, 2003
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator
Author Advanced search


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.