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The role of school principal is broad, complex and increasingly challenging. Yet despite the importance of the role, little is known about the effectiveness of current professional learning programs that aim to prepare aspiring principals for the responsibilities of the job. There is no established practice of rigorously evaluating program outcomes.

Significant resources are continually invested in principal preparation programs, with limited evidence of impact. There is no coordinated or strategic approach to effectively preparing Australia’s school leaders.

Forty-five per cent of Australian principals report receiving average or weak leadership training as part of their formal education. Differences between effective principals and those who are under-prepared can be large. Therefore, it is crucial that investments in principal preparation are effective. We cannot begin to assess these investments and the effectiveness of the programs themselves without a commitment to evaluating them. In short, we need to know what is and what is not working. This report introduces an evaluation framework that program providers, schools and education systems in Australia can use to assess and improve their principal preparation programs.

The proposed framework is a practical guide for providers of professional learning programs to work through to review their program’s goals, processes and outcomes. Recognising that different programs will have their own goals and approaches, the evaluation framework does not use a one-size-fits-all approach to evaluation. Instead it has an adaptable, customisable structure that enables providers to implement an evaluation best suited to their program.