OLR Research Report

January 19, 2000





By: Judith Lohman, Chief Analyst

You asked us to survey several states, including Massachusetts, Texas, and Florida, and describe their professional development requirements for school principals.


We looked at state laws and administrator certification regulations in Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Texas. Of these states, only New Jersey and New York currently have no professional development requirement for teachers and school administrators. The New York Board of Regents has approved a professional development requirement for teachers licensed after February 1, 2004, but the regulations do not address administrators.

Florida, Maryland, and Massachusetts have the same professional development requirements for administrators (including principals) and teachers. In 1999, Texas established a new principals' teaching certificate, identified qualifications for the certificate, and required principals' professional development activities to be related to those qualifications. Massachusetts requires school districts to adopt individual professional development plans, which presumably could contain different professional development courses for administrators.

Florida has a special Council on Educational Management that is charged with, among other things, identifying the skills needed for effective school management, and also runs a Florida Academy for School Leaders to provide voluntary in-service training for principals. The state also subsidizes district professional development programs for principals. Finally, although Maryland law does not specify particular professional development activities for school principals, in 1999, it instituted a special licensing test for them.

We also enclose a table of additional state administrators professional development requirements compiled by the Education Commission of the States for your further information.


General Professional Development Requirement

Florida law requires professional educator certificates held by teachers and administrators to be renewed every five years. In order to renew a certificate, an educator must earn at least six college credits or 120 in-service points (or any combination of the two). The law does not specify particular professional development activities for school principals (Fla. Stats. 231.24).

Florida School Management Training System

In the mid-1980s, the Florida legislature created several programs to provide a state, regional, and district support system for excellence among principals and other school management personnel.

Florida Council on Education Management. This 17-member council, appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, has the following responsibilities:

1. identify competencies that characterize high-performing principals and other managers in state public schools;

2. validate the selected competencies through scientific research;

3. identify standards and ways to measure and evaluate performance in the selected competencies;

4. identify how to train school managers in the competencies and develop new training materials;

5. identify ways to develop and implement a competency certification program for school managers;

6. develop policies and procedures needed to adopt and implement a program to compensate managers based on successful performance in the competencies;

7. identify criteria for screening, selecting, and appointing managers;

8. develop and approve guidelines for approving school district training programs used to certify principals; and

9. establish an educational management and development network for managers.

Florida Academy for School Leaders. The academy, whose purpose is to upgrade public school management in the state, provides in-service training for school managers. The council serves as its board of directors.

District Management Training Programs. Local school districts may establish training programs for district administrators and school-based managers, and those who are potential candidates for such positions. The programs must train the administrators in the competencies identified by the council. The cost of the programs is paid partly the district and partly by the state.

At the request of any district, the Academy for School Leaders must supply technical assistance in developing a program. The education commissioner must approve proposed programs before distributing state funds.

Center for Interdisciplinary Advanced Graduate Study. The center must provide advanced educational opportunities for school-based managers and conduct research to improve the competence of school principals. The center, which must be located at a state university and be established by a contract with the council, must also provide training for currently employed and prospective principals and assistant principals (Fla. Stats. 231.087).


Like Florida, Maryland law requires professional development activities for those holding state educator licenses but does not specify particular activities for principals or school administrators. Maryland requires six semester hours of credit in the first three years and 30 hours in the next seven years.

Although Maryland does not have special professional development requirements for current principals, it adopted a special licensing test for new principals in 1999. The test is the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA). The six-hour test, established by the Educational Testing Service, measures the skills needed for entry-level professionals to perform competently at their jobs. It requires written responses to real-world situations and reflects national standards set by the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium.

Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia also require the SLLA for new principals.


Massachusetts requires school districts to adopt and implement professional development plans for all principals, teachers, and professional staff. The plans must include training in the state's new curriculum frameworks, in participatory decision-making, and parent and community involvement (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. Ch. 71, 38Q)

In order to renew his educator license every five years, an educator must attest that he has completed a professional development plan that meets guidelines established by the State Board of Education.


State Law

Texas law requires every school principal to participate in an assessment process and to complete “professional growth activities” at least once every five years. Continuing education for principals must be based on an individual assessment of the knowledge, skills, and proficiencies the law identifies as those needed to perform successfully as a principal. The assessment can be used only to develop the “individualized professional growth plan” for the principal (Tex. Ed. Code, 21.054).

Texas law requires the qualifications for school principals to emphasize the following:

1. instructional leadership;

2. administration, supervision, and communication skills;

3. curriculum and instructional management;

4. performance evaluation;

5. organization; and

6. fiscal management (Tex. Ed. Code, 21.046).

State Board Regulations

In August 1999, the State Board for Educator Certification adopted a new certificate for school principals. Anyone employed as a principal after September 1, 1999 must complete the assessment and a professional growth plan by September 1, 2004 and every five years thereafter.

In addition, the regulations require that, as of September 1, 2000, to receive a standard principal certificate, an applicant must have at least two years of teaching experience, a master's degree, and pass a special principals' exam. The requirements also apply to assistant principals.