Check out any one of the many publications that rank our nation’s public school systems every year and you’ll find Georgia somewhere in the middle. Not among the most poor-performing in the nation, but also not among the top states being celebrated for the quality of their public schools. But Georgia is a state on the move, and if you take a closer look, you’ll find plenty of reasons to give the Peach State its due praise for its efforts at working toward a brighter tomorrow for its PreK-12 students.
Take Georgia’s Tiered System of Support for Students, for example — a framework for (1) identifying students in need of enrichment; (2) providing evidence-based interventions; (3) monitoring student progress; and (4) adjusting interventions based on student responsiveness. Through this four-tiered system, schools and districts are able to develop and implement a sound infrastructure and a solid, unified system that meets established goals.
This framework for school and district improvement isn’t just pie-in-the-sky wishing, either. Recent stats reveal that it’s working, and quite well. For example, Madison County High School in Danielsville reported that upon embracing the Tiered System of Supports, their graduation rate increased nearly 5 percent in one academic year alone.
Thanks to efforts like this and to the tireless work of educators like you, Georgia’s public school system continues to show signs of improvement. Your dedication to the state’s public school system and to its some 1.6 million students is firm and unwavering, so taking your career in education to the next level just makes good sense for both you and your career.
You’ve chosen educational administration and leadership as the next stop in your career, and for good reason. A bigger paycheck, plenty of exciting professional opportunities, and more opportunities to effect positive change at both the building and district levels are just some of the exciting things that await you. But first you’ll need to advance your education and complete the education and training that will get you where you want to be.
A move into educational administration and leadership calls for a master’s, educational specialist, or doctoral degree in the field. Fortunately, you’ll find a wealth of graduate-level programs in education and leadership, both in Georgia and throughout the country, that are designed to align with your future career goals.
How to Become a Principal or Superintendent in Georgia – School-level Educational Leadership
There’s more than 2,200 public schools, more than 115,000 educators, and 181 school districts in Georgia. Whether you’re working toward a building-level role as a vice principal, assistant principal, or principal or a district-level role as a superintendent, you’ll find plenty of ways to effect positive change in Georgia’s public education system.
To become a principal or superintendent in Georgia, you must earn Tier II Educational Leadership certification through the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC).
Note: Tiered Leadership replaces Educational Leadership – Building Level (field 706) and Educational Leadership – System Level (field 707) certification.
Before you can become a principal or superintendent in Georgia, you must be a Georgia-certified educator (Level 5 or higher).
Once you meet this requirement, you can begin taking the steps to become a principal or superintendent in Georgia.
Step 1. Complete a GaPSC-Approved Tier I Educator Preparation Program
You must earn Standard Professional Educational Leadership – Tier I certification before you can earn Tier II certification.
To earn Tier I certification, you must complete a master’s, educational specialist, or doctoral degree from a GaPSC-approved Tier I educator preparation program.
To be admitted into an approved GaPSC Tier I program, you must take and pass the Ethics for Educational Leadership Assessment.
GaPSC-approved educational leadership graduate degrees include all coursework and practical experiences necessary to earn Tier I certification in Georgia.
If you’ve already earned a minimum of a master’s degree, you can meet the requirements for Tier I certification by completing a Tier I certification-only program. These programs, which consist of about 18-22 credits and 250 hours of practical experiences, feature coursework such as:
Many of these programs feature partially or fully online formats for superior convenience and flexibility.
Step 2. Take and Pass the GACE Educational Leadership Assessment
After graduating from your GaPSC-approved educational leadership graduate program, you must take and pass the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) Educational Leadership Assessment.
This assessment, which is designed to measure the knowledge, skills, and abilities of entry-level school leaders in Georgia, consists of questions on the following topics:
You’ll register on the ETS GACE website, view the upcoming testing windows for the Educational Leadership Assessment, and choose an upcoming date and location that works best for you. This exam is administered at Prometric testing centers, which are located throughout Georgia and the U.S.
Step 3. Apply for Standard Professional Educational Leadership – Tier I Certification
You’ll apply for Standard Professional Educational Leadership – Tier I certification by logging into your MyPSC account. Once you hold Tier I certification, you may work in any leadership position below a principal at the building level and in a district-level position that does not include supervising principals or other leaders.
Step 4. Complete a GaPSC-approved Performance-Based Tier II Program
Once you earn Tier I certification, you’ll be eligible to advance to Performance-Based Professional Tier II certification.
You’ll need to complete a GaPSC-approved Performance-Based Tier II specialist or doctoral level program. These programs are often designed as:
If you’ve previously earned an educational specialist or doctoral degree in educational leadership, you can meet the requirements for Tier II certification by completing a Tier II Educational Leadership certificate program. These programs consist of about 18 credits and include all of the coursework and practical experiences necessary for Tier II certification in Georgia.
Step 5. Take and Pass the Performance-Based Assessment for School Leaders (PASL)
You must take and pass the Performance-Based Assessment for School Leaders (PASL) to advance to Tier II certification.
The PASL is designed to assess the critical roles of educational leaders and how they contribute to student and school success. The assessment includes three tasks, each of which must take place during your clinical experience. These tasks are focused on:
You must successfully complete this assessment before you complete your Tier II certification program.
Step 6. Apply for Standard Professional Educational Leadership – Tier II Certification
You’ll apply for Standard Professional Educational Leadership – Tier II certification by logging into your MyPSC account. Once you earn Tier II certification, you may hold any leadership position, including school-level principal, superintendent, or another type of position that supervises other leaders.
The Standard Professional Educational Leadership – Tier II certification is valid for a period of five years and is renewed by fully participating in your local education agency’s professional learning community.
School Principal Salary and Jobs in Georgia
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school principals in Georgia earned a median salary of $98,770 as of May 2022. The top earners in this profession earned about $116,950 during this time.
While most metro areas of Georgia reported median salaries that closely reflected the state median, a few metro areas reported principal salaries that topped the state median:
Superintendent Salary and Jobs in Georgia
According to the BLS, Georgia’s superintendents earned about $128,070 as of May 2022. The Atlanta metro area reported a higher average salary of $129,360 for superintendents during this time. Other metro areas with top salaries for superintendents included:
Educational Leadership Degree Options in Georgia: Doctorate and Master’s in Educational Leadership
Job growth among Georgia’s educational leaders is expected to remain strong in the coming years. In the ten years leading up to 2030, the number of superintendent jobs in the state is projected to increase by 10.8 percent. During this time, the state should see about 640 annual job openings for principals and superintendents due to a blend of new job growth, retirements, and natural job turnover.
Exciting opportunities await aspiring principals and superintendents like you in Georgia. With the right blend of experience, education, and passion for education, you can become among Georgia’s top educational leaders who work hard to make a difference in the lives of the state’s public school children.
You’ll find an outstanding selection of master’s, educational specialist, and doctoral degrees in educational administration and leadership that are perfectly aligned with both state requirements and your career goals. And many are offered in convenient and flexible online formats that make earning the degree that will allow you to move from the classroom and into administration easier and more convenient than ever. It’s a great time to become a principal or superintendent in Georgia!
Clark Atlanta University
School of Education
Department of Educational Leadership
MA in Educational Leadership
Ed.S. in Educational Leadership
Ed.D in Educational Leadership Tier II
College of Education
Certificate in Educational Leadership Tier 1
Ed.S, Certificate in P-12 Tier 2 Educational Leadership
Ph.D in Educational Leadership P-12 School Leadership
Ph.D in Educational Leadership Independent School Leadership
PhD in Educational Leadership Higher Education Leadership
Charter School of Education and Human Sciences
M.Ed in Educational Leadership
Ed.S in Educational Leadership
Tier I Leadership Certificate
Tier II Leadership Certificate
M.Ed in Education
Ed.S, Certificate in Educational Leadership
Ed.S in Teacher Leadership
M.Ed in Education-Teacher Leadership
2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for education administrators, kindergarten through secondary. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed May 2023.