Joint Professional Learning
Children need to have smooth transitions from one year of schooling to the next in order to sustain the gains made each year. The transition from pre-K to kindergarten can be a particularly challenging time, especially if it is a child’s first time in an elementary school. One way to encourage smooth transitions is to strengthen the alignment of child care centers and elementary schools. Collaboration, coordination of standards and curriculum, and information sharing are key to meaningful alignment. When principals and center directors participate in joint professional learning they can establish relationships with each other and ensure that they have a similar knowledge base. Some states and districts are offering joint professional learning for principals and the center directors whose programs feed into their schools in order to facilitate these smooth transitions.
New America’s Finding: According to our survey responses, only seven states offer joint professional development for principals and center directors: Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.
Principal evaluation is key to holding leaders accountable for their performance, and it is also helpful in identifying areas where they can improve their practice. Most principal evaluation systems are only a few years old and there is little research on best practices. There is significant variation in design and implementation by state.
New America’s Finding: All states require principals to be formally evaluated. Most states give districts the discretion to determine who conducts the evaluation, but evaluations are usually left to the superintendent.