Wallace Foundation Research on Leadership Development and Learning

Type: Toolkit
Topics: Equity, Leadership Development

August 29, 2022

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and The Wallace Foundation have partnered to work on the Educational Leadership Initiative to develop, test and share useful approaches for training of education leaders.

Wallace's mission is to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone.

Blended Coaching Blog Series

In collaboration with authors Gary Bloom and Jackie Wilson, the following blog series was developed to support educational leaders on their quest for effective coaching and supervision methods. This blog series explores the benefits of what the authors call, Blended Coaching.


Using Federal Funds for Summer Learning and Afterschool (December 2023)
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Creating an Ecosystem of Out-of-school Time Opportunities (August 2023)
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AASA Establishing District-Community Partnerships (May 2023)
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A National Call to Action for Summer Learning: How Did States Respond? (July 2023)

Expanding Equity in Afterschool and Summer Learning: Lessons From School Districts (April 2023)

Using Federal Funds for Summer Learning and Afterschool: A New Guide for Providers, School Districts and Intermediaries (July 20, 2022)

Strengthening the Bench of Principals: Evidence and Examples from Universities, Districts and States (June 6, 2022 )
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Early Findings and Lessons from the Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning (October 26, 2020 )

Providing Instructional Support to Principals: The Role of Principal Supervisor (February 6, 2020 )
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Principals as Equity Leaders(September 12, 2019 )
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Great Principals Have Great Leaders (May 29, 2019 )
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Leader Tracking Systems: Turning Data into Information for School Leadership (March 21, 2018 )
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Round 3: How Can Supervisors Shape Effective Principals? (May 19, 2017 )
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Round 2: How Can Supervisors Shape Effective Principals? (November 10, 2016 )
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How Can Supervisors Shape Effective Principals?(April 26, 2016 )
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Podcast Episodes
AASA Principal Supervisor Podcast Series

The AASA Principal Supervisor Podcast Series brings together trusted voices to discuss the importance of principal support and coaching.

Episodes are hosted by Eric Nelson, who previously worked with the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership to support principal supervisors.

In his 25-year educational career, Eric has worked with schools and leaders in 20 states, visiting 250 schools and more than 1,000 classrooms. He now serves as a leadership consultant to superintendents and principal supervisors across the country.

Listen to the Podcast

The Wallace Foundation Podcasts

In this podcast series, practitioners share how to build a steady pipeline of effective school leaders. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or your preferred streaming platform.


Let's Talk Social and Emotional Learning Podcast (Feb 8, 2022)
This wide-ranging, three-episode series breaks down the what, why and how of SEL​​​​.
Featuring: Lucas Held Director of Communications, The Wallace Foundation; Thelma Ramirez, Research Associate, EASEL Lab, Harvard Graduate School of Education; and Stephanie Jones, Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Play Recording

Episode 11: How Districts, States and Universities Can Play a Role (Aug 14, 2019)
Featuring: Douglas Fisher, Chair of the Department of Educational Leadership, San Diego State University; Eric Gordon, CEO, Cleveland Metropolitan School Distric; and Carissa Moffat Miller, Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers
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Episode 10: How Districts Sustained Their Principal Pipelines (Aug 6, 2019)
Featuring: Marine Cofield, Senior Executive Director, Office of Leadership in New York Public Schools; Tricia McManus, Assistant Superintendent of Leadership, Professional Development and Schools Transformation, Hillsborough County Public Schools; and Glenn Pethel, Assistant Superintendent of Leadership Development, Gwinnett County Public Schools
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Episode 9: Measuring the Effectiveness of Principal Pipelines (July 31, 2019)
Featuring: Susan Gates, Senior Economist with RAND and co-principal investigator of Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Wat for Districts to Improve Schools and Elizabeth Ty Wilde, Senior Research Officer at The Wallace Foundation
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Episode 8: Building Principal Pipelines Improves Principal Retention (July 24, 2019)
Featuring: Doug Anthony, Associate at Superintendent of the Office of Talent Development in Prince George's County Public Schools; Susan Holiday, Instructional Director/Principal Supervisor in Prince George's County; and Jaime Whitfield-Coffen, Principal of Tulip Grove Elementary School in Prince George's County
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Episode 7: A District Strategy to Improve Student Achievement (July 17, 2019)
Featuring: Susan Gates, Senior Economist with RAND and co-principal investigator of Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools; Linda Chen, Chief Academic Officer for the New York City Public School System; and Wanda Luz Vazquez, Principal Coach, Former Principal of El Puente Academy, a High School in New York City
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Episode 6: Shoring Up Two Critical Roles, Assistant Principals and Principal Supervisors (March 28, 2018)
Featuring: Doug Anthony, Associate at Superintendent of the Office of Talent Development in Prince George's County Public Schools; LaTanya Sothern, an Assistant Principal in Prince George's County; and Kasandra Lassiter, a Principal Supervisor, a Position also known as an Instructional Director, in Prince George's County
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Episode 5: States Can Play a Role in Building Principal Pipelines (March 14, 2018)
Featuring: Paul Fleming, Assistant Commissioner, Teacher and Leaders Division, Tennessee Department of Education
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Episode 4: Mentors Support Novice Principals on the Job (Feb 28, 2018)
Featuring: Glenn Pethel, Assistant Superintendent of Leadership Development, Gwinnett County Public Schools; Tamara Perkins, Principal, Parsons Elementary School; and Vivian Stranahan, Leader Mentor, Gwinnett County Public Schools
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Episode 3: Districts and Universities Work Together to Improve Preparation (Feb 14, 2018)
Featuring: Liz Kirby, Chief of Strategy and Planning for Chicago Public Schools, and Steve Tozer, Director of the Center for Urban Education Leadership at the University of Illinois at Chicago
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Episode 2: Improving Job Standards and Hiring Pays Off (Jan 31, 2018)
Featuring: Tricia McManus, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Leadership and Professional Development of the Hillsborough County Public Schools, and Robert Bhoolai, Principal at Robinson High School in Tampa, FL
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Episode 1: Building the Pipeline (Jan 17, 2018)
Featuring: Carmen Farina, Outgoing Chancellor of the New York City School System, and Jody Spiro, Director of Education at the Wallace Foundation
Play Recording

Research and Reports

Skills for Success: Developing Social and Emotional Competencies in Out-of-School-Time Programs (February 2023)
This report provides tips and recommendations to help OST providers and OST intermediaries—organizations that provide support services to individual providers in a community— incorporate high-quality SEL instruction and practices into their programs.

National Call to Action for Summer Learning: How Did School Districts Respond? (December 2022)
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Seeking to counter the pandemic’s harmful impact on students, the vast majority of school districts nationwide mobilized in 2021 to deliver summer learning programming. This report draws on a survey of districts that yielded nationally representative results and revealed patterns and common characteristics of summer 2021 programming efforts.

Navigating SEL From the Inside Out: Looking Inside & Across 18 Leading SEL Programs: A Practical Resource for Schools and OST Providers—Middle & High School Focus (December 2022)
One of the most popular resources in The Wallace Foundation's Knowledge Center in recent years has been a guide to social and emotional learning (SEL) programs for preschool and elementary-age students. Now the research team behind that guide has taken an in-depth look at SEL programs for the middle and high school years. The publication is intended to help schools and out-of-school-time (OST) providers interested in SEL select programs that match their goals and resources.

States as Leaders, Followers, and Partners: Lessons from the ESSA Leadership Learning Community and the University Principal Preparation Initiative (November 2022)
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Two different efforts by The Wallace Foundation in recent years sought to encourage states to take a more active role in shaping high-quality school principals. In this set of reflections on research about those endeavors, political scientist Paul Manna asks “what does recent evidence show about how states can foster conditions that identify new principals and enable them and their veteran colleagues to thrive in ways that support teaching and learning?”

The Long Game: How One Afterschool Intermediary Organization and Its Partners Shaped Policy, Practice, and Perception in California (September 2022)
The Partnership for Children & Youth has earned a national reputation for its effectiveness in promoting efforts to improve, and expand access to, afterschool, summer and other beyond-the-school-day programs in California. This Wallace Story From the Field was spurred in part by a milestone for the Partnership, the decision by its founding executive director, Jennifer Peck, to step down from the post. The piece documents key moments in the group’s history and provides lessons for intermediary and other organizations that seek to advance out-of-school-time programming in their states.

All the Voices: Statewide Collaborations for School Leadership under ESSA (September 2022)
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What happens when teams from 11 states join a novel effort to promote effective, equity-minded school leadership? Policy ideas and innovative programs.

District-Partner Problem-Solving in Social-Emotional Learning Efforts (September 2022)
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Six studies explore how schools, partners met challenges in ventures to build children’s social-emotional skills ​​​​​​

Building, Sustaining and Improving: Using Federal Funds for Summer Learning and Afterschool (July 2022)
In the wake of the pandemic, summer learning and afterschool programs are getting increased attention because they can add learning time and promote children's well-being. This guide, developed by Education Counsel, is designed for school districts, summer and afterschool intermediaries, out-of-school time providers, and municipal and state officials. It describes which federal funds can be tapped to make progress in three broad areas to support quality and access: Preparing for program delivery, building ecosystems of support and creating equitable learning environments.

Redesigning University Principal Programs: A Systematic Approach for Change and Sustainability--Report in Brief (June 2022)
This publication summarizes the final report in a three-part series from the RAND Corporation's seven-year study. The researchers found that through collaboration with school districts, state organizations and others, universities can defy expectations about institutional resistance to change and bring about meaningful principal preparation program redesign.

Developing Effective Principals: What Kind of Learning Matters? (May 2022)
High-quality principal development is linked to better outcomes for principals, teachers and students, but access to it varies by state and school poverty levels. Policy change can help.

Social and Emotional Learning in the Spotlight (March 2022)
Researcher Stephanie Jones and her team at Harvard’s EASEL Lab have been studying how to build children’s social and emotional skills since well before the pandemic and have recently published an updated and expanded guide to evidence-based SEL programs. Listen to Jones break down some of the key topics in the updated SEL guide and its new components.

As the Pandemic Shifts So Does People’s Thinking About Arts and Culture (March 2022)
A new survey by LaPlaca Cohen and Slover Linett finds most Americans believe that arts organizations can play a critical role in helping their communities during this time of continuing change and crises. In this resource, Jen Benoit-Bryan, Vice President and Co-Director of Research at Slover Linett breaks down the findings and implications of the survey.

Two Summer Programs Inch Towards Normal as Covid Subsides (Mach 2022)
What can one summer do to help overcome the havoc Covid-19 has wreaked on young people’s lives? A fair bit, say staffers and parents at the Princeton-Blairstown Center in New Jersey and The Fresh Air Fund in New York City. The two programs are working to ease children back into the world, help them make friends again and rebuild the social and emotional skills they may have lost.

A Place to be Heard; a Space to Feel Held: Black Perspectives on Creativity, Trustworthiness, Welcome and Well-Being (January 2022)
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​A study of Black Americans suggests that Black communities most value arts experiences that celebrate their creativity, support self-care, earn their trust and foster a sense of belonging. This study seeks to better understand cultural and creative preferences among Black communities.

Strong Pipelines, Strong Principals: A Guide for Leveraging Federal Sources to Fund Principal Pipelines
(December 2021)
This guide aims to help school district decision-makers understand the federal funding sources that can be tapped to develop sound principal pipelines by specifying seven categories along with indicators of progress and the federal funding sources that may be most promising for each one. 

 Principal Leadership in a Virtual Environment
(November 2021)
This report defines what high-quality, equitable learning looks like in a virtual environment and describes strategies for districts to consider in efforts to develop a pipeline of effective, equity-minded principals who have mastered operating in a virtual realm.

 Summer for All: Building Coordinated Networks to Promote Access to Quality Summer Learning and Enrichment Opportunities Across a Community
(November 2021)
This report looks at how schools, community-based organizations and other civic organizations in four cities — Boston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. — formed coordinated networks to increase access to high-quality summer programming for young people. 

Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out
(July 2021)
This updated and expanded guide to evidence-based SEL programs offers detailed information on 33 pre-K through elementary school programs, encompassing curricular content and program highlights. Practitioners from schools, early childhood education (ECE) providers and out-of-school time (OST) can use this resource to look “inside and across” programs to better understand program content and assess program fit with their district or community needs.

5 Reports and Tools to Help Guide Your Summer Learning Program 
(July 2021)
Everything from planning district-wide summer programs to maximizing resources available under the American Rescue Plan Act—and Wallace’s popular summer learning toolkit.

Think States Play No Role in Shaping Effective Principals? Think Again. (July 2021)
States often tread lightly when it comes to assuming a full role in improving principal quality. They are concerned, among other things, about overreach into an area—public education—where local authority is prized. In this resource researcher Susan Gates discusses seven key policy levers to consider according to a recent RAND report published by Wallace.

Evidence-based Considerations for COVID-19 Reopening and Recovery Planning: The Role of Principal Leadership in School Recovery and Reopening  (March 2021)
The American Rescue Plan Act has made funds available to states and districts to speed up recovery from the effects of COVID-19, including addressing learning loss. The Wallace Foundation has distilled evidence from its work that may be helpful in informing choices about how to spend those funds, as well as how to implement key strategies.

 The Role of Assistant Principals: Evidence and Insights for Advancing School Leadership (April 2021)
The number of assistant principals has grown markedly in recent years, and with reconsideration, the AP role could do more to help foster educational equity, school improvement and principal effectiveness. The findings suggest the need for greater attention to the AP role by both the education community and researchers.

 How Principals Affect Students and Schools: A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research (February 2021)
​​​​​​​​An effective principal’s impact is stronger and broader than previously thought, making it “difficult to envision” a higher return on investment in K-12 education than the cultivation of high-quality school leadership, according to this research synthesis.

New Report on Summer Learning Benefits (January 2021)
 These findings are important because research has shown the summer months, when school is out of session, to be a time of widening achievement and opportunity gaps between low-income students and their wealthier peers.

Published Articles

Research from The Wallace Foundation is highlighted in the following School Administrator articles.

Our District’s Primacy of Developing Principal (December 2023)
Burk Royster, superintendent, Greenville, S.C.

Mentoring Future Leaders (December 2021)
William Harner, superintendent, Quakertown, Penn.

Coaching and Learning Embedded in District Culture (December 2021)
Rochelle Herring, senior program officer for the Wallace Foundation in New York

One District’s Path: Turnaround or Takeover (August 2021)
Pia Durkin, former superintendent and leadership consultant with Research for Better Teaching in Acton, Mass.

Coaching and Collaborating for Instructional Leadership (December 2020)

Rebecca Thessin, assistant professor of educational administration at The George Washington

President’s Corner: The Central Role in Transformation (October 2020)

Kristin Wilson, superintendent, Buckeye Elementary School District, Ariz., and AASA past president

My View: Proactive Support of Budding Principals (June 2020)

Jeff Eakings, retired superintendent

Coaching as a Way of Being (September 2019)

Jill Baker, superintendent, Long Beach Unified School District, Calif., and Kelly An, Long Beach’s leadership development director

Inside AASA: Valerie Truesdale on Leadership Services (September 2019)
Joetta Sack-Min, editor, AASA

Executive Perspective: Pipeline Program Prepares Principals (August 2019)

Daniel Domenech, AASA executive director

Reaping Top Talent With a Data Harvest (June 2018)
Nicholas Pelzer, senior program officer in the education leadership unit of The Wallace Foundation in New York

Tulsa Public Schools: Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative (PSELI)

Tulsa is one of six communities Wallace collaborated with through its PSELI, which set out to discover what happens when schools, afterschool and summer programs, community organizations, parents, and others work together to help develop children’s social-emotional skills. (October 2023)

Planning and Developing Principal Pipelines: Approaches, Opportunities and Challenges

A study of school system efforts to strengthen the principalship offers lessons for districts. One takeaway: It helps to have a core team in the central office in charge of the work. (June 2023)

Download the report

Assistant Principal Advancement to the Principalship: A Guide for School Districts

This guide can help school districts that want to examine and improve how they prepare assistant principals for the principal’s job. (June 2023)

Download the guide

Because we know the role of education benefits both individuals and the society in which we live and thrive,  the support and investment in education leaders, both principals and systemic leaders, is critical in charting a course forward toward success of every child that we serve in our schools. Preparing and supporting leaders with tools that enhance their capacity to promote and enact equitable decision making responsive to the needs of what we know to be an increasingly diverse  stakeholder community is paramount.
Rotunda Floyd-Cooper

Vice President, Educational Leadership, Wallace Foundation

“Research shows that effective instructional leadership is a critical factor in increasing student achievement. AASA is proud to partner with The Wallace Foundation, one of the nation’s premiere supporters of education leaders, to provide high-quality instructional leadership resources to our members nationwide. This partnership builds on AASA’s ongoing efforts to support and grow current and aspiring school system leaders.”

Dan Domenech

Former Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association