Strong Charter School Principal Leadership

Running a successful charter school takes more than vision. It requires good leadership, and that leadership is provided by the charter school principal. The charter school principal determines the tone and attitude of the school, and how seriously the institution’s core values are taken.

The former Center on Innovation and Improvement released a report on charter schools in 2008 called, “What Works: Inside Model Charter Schools” which outlines the common traits shared by successful charter schools. It’s a great read for charter school developers, and we’ve used it as a guide to identify the top five goals principals should promote from the very first day of school.

1. Striking a Healthy Balance Between Educational and Business Expertise at the Administrative Level

Poor management leads to poor results. This is true in every venture that involves people and money. But like any venture, the vision may directly conflict with the available resources. An administrator with an education background may not have a solid understanding of the business acumen needed to run a sustainable school. A good charter school principal strikes a balance between educational expertise and business expertise have a better shot of keeping their doors open – both from a student results standpoint and a financial standpoint.

2. Save Money on Operational Costs and Reinvest Money Into Student Success

The report mentions Oakland’s American Indian Public Charter School. It highlights the focus this institution’s principal gives to hiring highly-qualified teachers. This school’s budget prioritizes “books and teacher salaries.” The charter school principal makes a concerted effort to cut down on operational costs and reinvest that money into higher salaries for impressive teachers with stellar academic records.

Charter schools have some flexibility when it comes to hiring and compensating their faculty. Charter school principals who use this to their advantage can find unique ways to attract great teaching candidates and make them happy enough to stay.

Money saved on operational costs should go towards resources for students such as better computers or updated textbooks.

3. Set High Expectations Regardless of the Socioeconomic Makeup of Your Students

While you may have started your school with fresh energy and idealism, the process of actually running it is challenging. It can be tempting to let your standards slide. Keep in mind that charter schools are meant to be an alternative to the status quo. Commit to high standards from the beginning of the year, despite obstacles, so that your students also expect the best from themselves. Support this goal by providing the curriculum, resources, and testing necessary to achieve optimal student success rates.

4. Regularly Monitor and Make Adjustments as Needed

A charter school’s funding is tied to its ability to show good results. Create a culture that prioritizes monitoring, evaluation, and improvement in teaching methods. Encourage your teachers to participate in diagnostic tests to identify trouble areas and trends before they become a larger problem.

5. Consistently Engage with Staff and Students to Gauge Performance

Above all, consistently engage with your staff and students to understand what happens on a day-to-day basis at your charter school. Stating goals at the beginning of the school year is not enough. As a charter school principal, it’s important to work towards those goals throughout the year, so your staff and students take them seriously.

Make it a goal to visit classrooms and sit in on lessons to understand your faculty’s teaching methods. Allocate time to meeting with teachers. Make sure that there is an execution plan to act on the insights and trends that are uncovered in diagnostic testing, and that these plans are actually implemented.

Finally, carry out regular teacher evaluations to guarantee you have a stellar staff and to encourage your faculty members to excel as well.


Top Vendors for Charter School Principals

Are you a charter school principal searching for great vendors?  Browse our directory to find the perfect charter school vendor to suit your needs. Maybe you’re looking for financing? Or help with your marketing plan? Our directory lists the top vendors that focus specifically on charter schools.

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