About the Awards Program
Building on nearly four decades of serving Florida’s taxpayers by improving government efficiency and taxpayer value in all areas of public policy, Florida TaxWatch established the Principal Leadership Awards program in 2014 to identify Florida’s most effective principals in high-risk K-12 public schools, recognize and reward their work, and promote their transformational practices throughout the state. The goal of the program is to improve student achievement in high-risk schools, thereby closing the achievement gap.
As a nonpartisan, independent 501(c)(3) devoted to public policy research, we pride ourselves on uncovering innovative ideas and policies that can make Florida a national example of excellence, and the Principal Leadership Awards program is a key aspect of what we do.
This unique initiative identifies principals around the state who have had the greatest impact on their students, in parts of the state where educational success can transform a community. Unlike more common awards programs, our annual winners are not nominated by colleagues, or school boards, or superintendents. In keeping with the TaxWatch research ethos of using data and evidence to recommend policy reforms, this awards program is Florida’s only data-driven principal recognition initiative.
The program analyzes student performance data over several consecutive years, and the results are weighted to find those principals making a difference in communities that need the attention the most. While Florida can easily point to its highest-performing schools in affluent communities, the principals recognized through this program are those that may otherwise go unnoticed by a statewide audience, but their impact is far greater.
Each principal recognized is truly making a difference in their school, their community, and the education of Florida’s next generation. While a few strategic changes can help boost achievement scores in schools where success is the norm, the dedication and innovation required to turn a failing or faltering school with limited resources into one where success is expected, and students’ lives are forever changed, can be transformational.