An assistant principal typically works at a school and helps the principal in dealing with behavioral problems with students, evaluating teachers, and dealing with certain other school functions such as some extracurricular activities and the cafeteria. Also called a vice principal, the assistant principal will usually handle many of the tasks and needs of the school in order to relieve some of the workload from the principal, and often is more concerned with the day to day maintenance of the school. He or she may also work to prove his or her worthiness for advancement, as many assistant principals take the position as a stepping stone toward becoming a principal.
The number of assistant principals at a school typically depends on the size of the school and the number of students, though most schools will have at least one. An assistant principal is heavily involved in the daily routines of the students, teachers, and parents who participate in the education of their children. This often takes the form of discipline when dealing with students whose behavior is disruptive to or unsafe for other students. Disciplinary steps may also be taken when dealing with teachers who are not reaching the mandatory goals set by the state or region in which the school is located. While an assistant principal may not be able to fire teachers or officially reprimand them, he or she will usually be the first person to discuss areas of improvement regularly, before the principal becomes involved.
An assistant principal will also often be involved in various aspects of the running of the school itself. Though the principal usually deals with making and managing the budget of the school, the assistant principals will often work to ensure that budgeted activities are handled properly and oversee the workings of extracurricular activities and programs. Since the assistant principals often deal with disciplinary actions and daily issues, they may be more familiar to students than the principal of a school who is less often directly involved with them.
With the increased focus in American education on standardized testing, many assistant principals in the United States have also become heavily involved in those procedures as well. An assistant principal will often work with teachers to establish how best to enable students to pass the tests, as well as administering the tests or instructing other faculty members in how to administer them properly. The various duties and roles of assistant principals are all typically related to the duties of the principal of a school, and being an assistant principal is often a form of training for becoming a principal. However, some assistant principals choose to remain assistants throughout their careers.