McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership Publications

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Executive Summary

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The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University, and New America partnered to study early childhood instructional leadership in schools. The National Principals’ Survey on Early Childhood Instructional Leadership was conducted in 2016 with the NAESP membership. This environmental scan collected basic descriptive data about the roles within schools and districts that contribute to instructional leadership and teacher supervision in preK classrooms. The survey was designed to examine the distribution of leadership functions; the influence of elementary principals on supporting children transitioning to kindergarten; classroom activities in preK and primary classrooms; and the alignment of curriculum, standards and instruction across the PreK-3 continuum.


We are grateful for the contributions of many individuals who contributed to the National Principals’ Survey on Early Childhood Instructional Leadership. We are especially grateful to Gail Connelly, Executive Director, NAESP, for supporting the research, which will be used to inform the development of policy and potential professional learning opportunities for the nation’s Pre-K-8 principals. We are also thankful for the contributions of New America—their expertise in previous research of elementary principals and their engagement through multiple phases of the project. We appreciate the review and editorial contributions from Ruby Takanishi. In addition, this report would not be possible without the support from McCormick Center staff Lindsey Engelhardt and Kathy Rousseau. We also appreciate assistance from Shaunti Knauth, NLU Director of Engaged Research and the National Louis Institutional Research Review Board. Most importantly, we would like to thank the individual elementary principals across the United States who set aside time in their busy schedules to participate in this survey. Your dedication to the profession and the children you serve is appreciated. We are grateful for your thoughtful consideration of instructional leadership in your programs and willingness to candidly respond to the need for data regarding these important issues.