The Lone Ranger in Rural Education: The Small Rural School Principal and Professional Development

Courtney Stewart, Joseph Matthews


A pressing need on principals and their demands for personal professional development is improving their performance based on evaluation policy standards. State policy standards dictate how principals evaluate teachers and how they are evaluated. Surveying rural principals we investigated the current understanding of state standards and needs for professional development. Rural districts in Utah are remote and isolated. This research highlighted that within Utah rural schools, small school principals have different needs and practices when compared to medium sized rural school principals. Small school principals reported having spent two hours less in collaborating with and mentoring their teachers than did medium school principals.  Small school principals also spent less time collaborating with other principals. Based on these results, we recommend that district and state administrators and policy makers target small school principals to provide the needed professional development to assist them in an already isolated and overloaded position.


rural; small school; principal evaluation; principal professional development

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