Example PreLEAD exam questions (in no particular order)


Remember that your outside committee members may not be very familiar with educational jargon and abbreviations. Be sure to think about how you'll articulate your answers to folks who are not regularly immersed in the world of K-12 education.
  • Tell us a little bit about your journey. How did you get to this point?
  • Why do you want to be an administrator?
  • Why should a district hire you as a principal (or special education director)?
  • What are some of the biggest problems facing P-12 education right now?
  • What are the leadership challenges in schools that you think can address now that you're at the end of your training?
  • What are the particular challenges that [rural / urban / suburban] schools face and how might you address some of those as a leader?
  • As a leader, what do you think are your best assets and what are some areas where you may need some improvement?
  • What do you see as your biggest challenge as you transition from a teaching role to an administrative role?
  • Talk about your first 100 days as a new principal. What's your game plan when you come into a new building? How do you learn whatever it is you need to learn and get people to buy in to your early change initiatives?
  • What does an effective data-driven school organization look like?
  • Do you think that the teachers in your school organization would say that professional development is structured in a way that is working well for them as adult learners? If so, what's working well? If not, how would you change it?
  • What's your #1 job as a school leader? What's the #1 thing that you should be focusing on?
  • How do you maintain academic press?
  • If you got to create an ideal principalship position for yourself, what would that look like?
  • If you could design an ideal school, what would it look like?
  • What are some concrete ways to meaningfully involve your local community in your school building?
  • What are some of the things that you think are going to keep you up at night?
  • How can you protect new teachers from teacher bullying by more experienced staff who work to quash new ideas, bring inspired instruction down to a lower level, etc. (i.e., how do you protect new staff from the 'crab bucket culture')?
  • What does it mean to prepare a student for the next half century rather than the last half century? What should schools be doing to make that happen?
  • Do you think schools communicate enough with parents and other community stakeholders? If so, what do they do that's especially effective? If not, what could they be doing that they're not?
  • What are some things that you can do so that you spend less time dealing with management issues and more time being an instructional leader?
  • How are you going to ensure that the job of a principal doesn't consume you (i.e., how are you going to establish an appropriate work-life balance)?
  • Every year the job of a principal gets more complex, not less. What are you going to need to work on in the next few years to be the kind of principal your students need you to be?
  • Out of everything you read in your program, what most resonated with you?
  • What does a positive school climate look like and what do you need to do as a principal to ensure that happens?
  • What's an "aha!" moment (or two) that you had in this program? What are some key insights that you've gained as a result of going through the program?
  • What are some things that you can do to help your teaching staff think at a systems level rather than at just an individual classroom level?
  • As a leader, what can you do to attract and retain high-quality teachers?
  • What are you going to do when your vision for your school conflicts with your community's vision for your school? What do you do when your professional and/or legal obligations run up against contrary community desires or expectations? How do you handle situations like these?
  • What does it mean to teach students about diversity - and prepare them for an increasingly diverse world - when they may not live or go to school in very diverse environments?
  • What can you do as a principal to help primarily middle class white teachers understand the diverse cultural backgrounds of students?
  • What are some things you can do as a school leader to encourage instructional risk-taking (or change or innovation)?
  • Should every kid have an individualized learning plan (ILP)? What are the barriers to making that happen and how might those be solved?
  • How do you ensure that personal health and wellness, the creative arts, vocational training, and similar areas don't get lost in the intense press for increased student achievement?
  • How do you know when your school is successful?
  • Budgets are tough right now. What kind of skills do you need to deal with this situation? What high-leverage investments will you need to continue to make?
  • What does your high school's relationship look like with community colleges and/or universities? What should it look like?
  • Do you think there is a role for you as a community intellectual leader, which maybe would include partnering with various outside organizations to foster and enhance the intellectual and artistic life of your town? Similarly, should you be helping your local community understand what your students' needs or interests are?