Education administrators manage the overall operation of schools, including building maintenance and cafeteria services. In addition, they set and oversee academic standards and ensure that teachers have the tools and resources, such as training, necessary to meet these standards. Education administrators typically do the following:
- Supervise teachers and other school staff, such as counselors and librarians
- Observe and monitor teachers to evaluate their effectiveness
- Help teachers improve their teaching skills by arranging professional development programs and mentorships
- Ensure that staff have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs effectively
- Discipline students and help teachers manage students’ behavior
- Meet with parents and teachers to discuss students’ progress and behavior
- Review test scores and other data to assess the school’s progress toward local, state, and federal standards
- Manage the school’s budget and finances
- Ensure school facilities are safe for students and staff
- Advocate on behalf of the school to ensure it has the necessary financial support
Principals establish the school as a resource to students and their families, by ensuring schools have strong counseling, a special education program, and before- and after-school child care programs. Principals serve as the public face of their school. They meet with superintendents, legislators, and members of the community to ensure the school has the resources it needs to serve its students. They are also responsible for responding to the concerns of parents and members of the community.
The job duties of principals vary by the size of the school and the school district. In larger schools and districts, principals have more resources and staff to help them achieve goals and meet standards. For example, large school districts may have instructional coordinators who help with data analysis and with teachers' professional development. However, principals in large districts may have less flexibility and may need to follow rules and guidelines set at the district level. Those in small school districts need to do all of these duties themselves and may have more flexibility to try new ideas.
Many schools have assistant principals, also known as vice principals, that help principals with school administration. Assistant principals often take the lead on student safety and discipline. They may interact with the students more than the principal does. In addition, assistant principals may administer student activities, help coordinate buses, and supervise building and grounds maintenance. Larger schools may have several assistant principals.