Introduction: 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 the student outcomes. Due to this subject, the current study examined professional development needs of Shiraz high schools principals.
Methods: The statistical population consisted of 343 principals of Shiraz high schools, of whom 250 subjects were selected using Krejcie and Morgan (1978) sample size determination table. To collect the data, a questionnaire developed by Salazar (2007) was administered. This questionnaire was designed for professional development in the leadership skills/competencies and consisted of 25 items in each leadership performance domain using five-point Likert-type scales. The content validity of the questionnaire was confirmed and the Cronbach's Alpha coefficient was (a=0.78). To analyze the data, descriptive statistics and Paired-Samples t-test were used. Also, the data was analyzed through SPSS14 software.
Results: The findings showed that principals' "Importance" ratings were always higher than their "Actual proficiency" ratings. The mean score of the difference between "Importance" and "Actual proficiency" pair on "Organizing resources" was 2.11, making it the highest "need" area. The lowest need area was "Managing the organization and operational procedures" at 0.81. Also, the results showed that there was a statistically significant difference between the means of the "Importance" and the corresponding means on the "Actual proficiency" (Difference of means=1.48, t=49.38, p<0.001).
Conclusion: Based on the obtained results, the most important professional development needs of the principals included organizing resources, resolving complex problems, understanding student development and learning, developing the vision and the mission, building team commitment, understanding measurements, evaluation and assessment strategies, facilitating the change process, solving problems and making decisions. In other words, the principals had statistically significant professional development needs in all areas of the educational leadership. Also, the results suggested that today's school principals need to grow and learn throughout their careers by ongoing professional development.
Keywords: Development; Educational leadership; Need assessment; Professional.