The Assistant Principal as Instructional Leader: The Redesign of the AP Position in the 21st Century


  • Andrea Somoza-Norton California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo
  • Natasha Neumann California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo



assistant principal, co-principal, induction, instructional leadership, shared leadership


Every campus leader is critical in supporting student achievement, most notably the principal and the often-unnoticed assistant principal (AP). The problem this study addresses is the lack of advancement in the AP’s role as an instructional leader in light of educational reform and the demands of the 21st century. To address this issue, the purpose of this study was to mine the literature to understand the role of the AP. A semi-systematic review of the limited literature on this topic indicated the AP, whose role has historically been a manager and disciplinarian, must be redefined to reflect an instructional and equitable leader actively seeking to ensure access and opportunity for all students. These findings suggest that the AP should be duly prepared and supported as teaching, learning, and educational leadership continue to evolve in these extraordinary times. Based on a synthesis of the literature, we argue for a revision of the outdated AP role to one more reflective of increased awareness regarding instructional leadership, student diversity, equity, and access within the current educational environment of standards-based reform.


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