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Abstract

Western Kentucky University has structured its own P-12 school principal certification program with a heavy emphasis on instructional leadership, starting with a strong understanding of the Common Core Standards and their role in providing a firm foundation for effective instruction. Educational research from the past 40 years reveals that effective school principals are “learning leaders” (Hallinger, 2011). Principals in high-performing schools devote much of their focus to the process of teaching and learning and dedicate their efforts to the improvement of both. Principal training programs must then make fostering instructional leadership a top priority (Jackson & Kelly, 2002). The purpose of this article is to describe the process of weaving concepts and skills for effective instructional leadership, including the central place of the Common Core, into the university’s training for aspiring school leaders. Significance for practitioners in K-12 schools is discussed. Western Kentucky University’s experience in training a new generation of school leaders can inform other university programs as they design and revise their own P-12 administrator certification curricula. Moreover, school districts, which are charged with the professional growth of practicing administrators, may also consider the instructional leadership framework utilized at WKU for on-going professional development. In this way, WKU’s P-12 principal preparation program can be a model for both practitioners and other universities.

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