Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


The role and responsibilities of the principal and assistant principal have developed and been redeveloped to meet demands and legislative impact on the American public education system. With these additional demands, principals are required to lead students and faculties to greater educational outcomes and achievement. As the role of building level leadership evolves and more principals become instructional leaders first and a managers second, opportunities for changing roles could correct assistant principal pigeon-holing. Some researchers and practitioners do not agree the assistant principal position is an appropriate training ground for the Principalship. Even some principals and researchers believe the training ground is inadequate. Educational leadership students seeking principal certification and university professors both agree that a gap in formalized instruction between the practical and theoretical exists (Hart, 1993). It is also argued that experience more than educational training influence succession success. Prior training only affords assistants the opportunity to become a principal in title alone. Educational researchers believe a new leadership style is necessary to advance school systems into the accountability era (Elmore, 2000; Fullan, 2003; Sergiovanni, 1996; Ubben, 2001). The demands and pressures of the job may cause principals to revert back to the practice of administration and school management rather than focusing on instruction as their preservice education insists (Anderson, 1963; Hart, 1993; Porter, 1996). This new accountability era includes a blend of management and leadership skills as the previously cited researchers identified as a common strain of leader characteristics and skill sets: specifically a proactive vision of the future, communication amongst constituents, strong ties toward instructional practices, and an importance placed upon interpersonal relationships.