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How to Become a Principal in Louisiana

It takes training, experience and drive to become a principal. The drive may come naturally, but the rest will be easier with a little forethought.

Educators who decide to take a step into an administration or specialist role start with a passion for what they do. According to a new 10-year Wallace Foundation survey, principals have a tremendous impact on student learning. “The difference that outstanding school principals make in the lives of young people cannot be overstated.”  Educators’ desire to support and enhance their communities can manifest in a variety of jobs besides being a principal that will make a difference within their school, district, city or parish.

Yet no matter how they choose to contribute, making the move to that new leadership role has some predictable elements, and it is wise to plan the path forward with those key considerations in mind.

In Louisiana, the road to many of those leadership positions, including a principalship, is not just an act of service but a strategic matter of education, certification and licensure.

Master’s Degree

Earning an advanced degree is the traditional course of action for an educator with a valid teaching certificate who has decided to become a principal or other educational leader.

A course of study like the University of Louisiana Monroe’s online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership program develops an educator’s understanding of the educational system, covers methods for building relationships among colleagues, addresses legal and ethical duties, and explores the design of better learning outcomes within a collaborative framework. The time to shape and refine one’s vision as a leader and mission as an educator is invaluable.

Networking with leaders at other institutions expands both your knowledge and your support base. The formal education will have you up to date on both theory and practice. And pragmatically, it also fulfills a requirement for earning Louisiana’s Educational Leader Certification.

Educational Leader Certification (EDL1)

In Louisiana, most leader positions at the school or district level require rigorous leadership preparation, including documented educational attainment and the formal completion of Educational Leader certification. This certification is necessary for principals and supervisors. It also applies to candidates for assistant principal, parish or city supervisor of instruction, supervisor/director of special education, and supervisor of child welfare and attendance.

There are four paths for the Educational Leader certification: the Master’s Path and Alternate Paths 1 through 3. Essentially, the Master’s Path for an Educational Leader Level 1 Certificate (EDL1) requires four things: a valid Louisiana Type B or Level 2 teaching certificate or comparable certificate from another state; three years of teaching experience; a master’s degree in educational leadership or a letter from the dean outlining the alignment of the student’s master’s degree with an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership; and a passing score on the Praxis School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA).

School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA)

There’s a different credential for top positions like superintendent, but the EDL1 is the entry-level licensure for principals and most other supervisors and specialists in Louisiana. As discussed above, getting certification requires passing a test called the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA).

The SLLA  can be taken at home or at a test center, by computer, with four hours to complete two sections. The first section consists of 100 selected-response questions spanning vision and goals, teaching and learning, managing organizational systems and safety, collaborating with key stakeholders, and ethics and integrity. The second section is made up of seven constructed-response questions about the education system, vision and goals, and teaching and learning.

Learn more about the University of Louisiana Monroe online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership program

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