Alternative Title

The Impact of Principal Preparation on Student Outcomes

Subject Area



The purpose of this study was to understand the role of principal preparation on first-year principals' ability to positively impact student outcomes. The study sought to understand key learning experiences that contributed to first-year principals' success upon completion of their preparation program. Using the case study method for this qualitative research study, I interviewed first-year principals to gather data on their perceptions of the learning experiences that led to their success. The research question that guided my qualitative research study was: How does one district-led principal preparation program in a large urban city increase first-year principals' capacity to effectively lead a campus and produce positive outcomes?

The study highlighted six best practices that all university-based preparation programs and alternative principal pipelines should implement to enhance its participants' learning experiences and their ability to successfully impact student outcomes within their first academic year of the principalship. The themes that emerged from the study as compelling learning experiences to build instructional leadership that impacted student outcomes were data analysis, observation and feedback, and professional learning communities. Themes based on unexpected challenges during their first year as principals serve as gaps in their learning that would enhance all preparation programs. Those themes were: non-instructional systems related to campus operations, soft skills, and transitioning to the principalship. Based on the theoretical framework created from the literature, field-experience and on-the-job support served as meaningful experiences for the preparation of aspiring leaders. Because principals play a crucial role in a campus's success or failure, aspiring leaders must be adequately prepared to lead a campus. Thus, this study contributes to the literature on principal preparation programs.

Degree Date

Spring 5-15-2021

Document Type


Degree Name



Education Policy and Leadership


Dr. Watt Lesley Black, Jr.

Second Advisor

Dr. Dawson Orr

Third Advisor

Dr. Roxanne Burleson

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License