The increased emphasis on standards-based school accountability since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is focusing critical attention on the professional development of school principals and their ability to meet the challenges of improving student outcomes. While rural school districts are dealing with many of the same issues facing urban districts, there are unique challenges that rural school principals face. However, effective professional development that addresses the unique needs of rural school leaders can build essential leadership capacity that supports school success. This article discusses the results of a study on the professional development needs of rural high school principals for school improvement. These findings provide direction for the development of professional development activities that will enhance the leadership skills that principals need to guide school reform and reach higher standards of student achievement.

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