HJR 20/SJR 58: Commission to Review,
Study and Reform Educational Leadership
September 20, 2002
Finding Qualified Leaders
At its third meeting, the commission
received testimony from Gene Bottoms, senior vice president, Southern
Regional Education Board (SREB), who examined recruitment and retention
of principals, promising practices, preparation and training, and related
issues. Citing six specific strategies to attract more qualified principals,
Dr. Bottoms first suggested purposeful "tapping" of high-performing
educators to become leaders, a practice that is typically more likely
to be found in progressive, urban school systems. Currently, principals
are somewhat "self-selected," as individuals may pursue graduate
degrees in school administration for a variety of reasons; some may be
motivated to do so to receive higher pay while remaining in an instructional
position. Contrasting this self-selection process is a system in which
high-performing teachers are identified and "groomed" for the
principalship; this system allows school divisions to "grow their
own" candidates rather than rely on an available pool that may not
be qualified for the particular positions. Institutions of higher education
also figure prominently in the self-selection process, as admissions criteria
rely on academic record, standardized test scores, and the candidate's
ability to finance graduate education. Dr. Bottoms suggested the creation
of a more collaborative process, involving input from those who can attest
to the applicant's "record of accomplishment and demonstrated leadership."
Noting that licensure or certification
as a principal is not necessarily indicative of a candidate's qualification
for the principalship, Dr. Bottoms cited Kentucky's screening process
for "Highly Skilled Educators" that included a portfolio, interview,
and observation process; Mississippi's one-year sabbatical supporting
university training; and efforts in Delaware and Arkansas to recruit minority
candidates. Actions supporting a "tapping" include incorporating
a portfolio and structured interview process, the use of assessment instruments,
release time for participation in on-the-job learning, tuition stipends
and matching grants, collaborative efforts between higher education and
school divisions to identify and select potential leaders, and incentive
pay for principals in low-performing schools. Dr. Bottoms also encouraged
states and school divisions to revisit policies that provide increased
pay for teachers who receive degrees in administration but never become
principals. Incentives for principals to serve in low-performing schools
also merit consideration, as increased accountability for school performance
makes these positions less attractive to candidates.
The second strategy urges the
redesign of leadership preparation, assessment, and evaluation measures
to reflect the core functions of curriculum, instruction, and student
achievement. While some institutions may simply superimpose a "matrix"
of accountability requirements on their current education leadership course
offerings to determine any gaps in their respective programs, a substantive
redesign may be required to enhance focus on student achievement. Courses
in school law, finance, personnel, and facilities may still prove helpful
but may not require the degree of emphasis currently granted in many preparation
programs. Citing specific progress in leadership preparation programs
at East Tennessee State University, the University of North Texas, and
Oklahoma State University (where focus on curriculum and instruction has
increased from one-twelfth to one-third of the total program), Dr. Bottoms
noted collaborations between institutions and school divisions and external
audits of university programs (Delaware) to shift focus from management
to instructional leadership. Alignment of preparation standards with evaluation
standards is also needed. Recognizing that schools of education are proven
"moneymakers" for universities, Dr. Bottoms noted that reconstitution
of leadership programs may meet with some resistance, especially if changes
necessitate added expense.
Also addressing leadership preparation
programs is the third strategy, encouraging internships as the central
focus of these redesigned programs. Effective internships would ensure
that the intern is not simply a set of "spare hands" or a shadow,
but an actual problem-solver in instructional issues. Collaboration with
local school divisions in crafting internships as well as the integration
of internships throughout the preparation program, rather than as a "capstone,"
were also urged. Finally, funding for mentors, collaborations, and leadership
program redesign was noted.
The fourth strategy encourages
the creation of a two-tiered licensure system, in which the initial license
is issued upon completion of the preparation program and passage of a
technical knowledge examination, and the professional license is granted
after a demonstration of practical knowledge and skills within a leadership
position. Such a performance-based system shifts focus from quantity to
quality of candidates and will likely require more resources than does
the current single-tier licensure model. State leadership academies might
provide support for principals in the induction phase. A one-year on-the-job
induction component for professional licensure of principals is already
in place in Kentucky. Similarly, Arkansas and Louisiana have adopted orientation
and induction initiatives.
Addressing the candidate pool,
the fifth strategy suggests expanding eligibility for initial licensure
to those persons holding a master's degree, demonstrating leadership skills,
and possessing a proven record of increasing student achievement. Implementation
of this strategy would necessitate the creation of an alternative procedure
for certifying those candidates who possess a graduate degree and strong
instructional performance, but who do not hold a degree in administration.
Louisiana, for example, offers an alternative licensure option that incorporates
a customized preparation program for eligible candidates holding a master's
degree and satisfying competency screening. In Oklahoma, a "completely
open" process allows master's degree holders who pass subject area
and principal examinations to become principals. This route, however,
does not screen candidates for leadership qualities and demonstrated skills
in improving student performance. Texas allows principal preparation to
be provided by local school divisions as well as universities. Additional
suggestions for enhancing the candidate pool include rethinking the roles
and duties assigned to assistant principals and teacher leaders to more
adequately prepare them for the principalship; often these personnel are
assigned "books, buses, bathrooms, and buildings" and receive
little opportunity for gaining experience in instructional leadership.
Finally, the sixth strategy
supports the creation of state leadership academies that target efforts
in low-performing schools. These efforts would address teams from schools,
rather than one leader, and might address a single challenge over time,
such as remediation or use of data to improve school performance throughout
the year. Leadership academies might also craft programs that would assist
not only in professional development, but also in obtaining credits for
licensure. Academy efforts should be evaluated for effectiveness in improving
student achievement. Louisiana and Alabama have leadership academies targeting
Strategies for Principal
Recruitment and Retention
Strategy 1: Tap high-performers
with demonstrated knowledge of curriculum and instruction and with a
passion for getting students to meet high-achievement standards.
Strategy 2: Redesign
leadership preparation courses, assessment and performance measures
to meet standards that emphasize the core functions of the school curriculum,
instruction and student achievement.
Strategy 3: Make field-based
experiences a central focus in redesigned leadership preparation programs.
Strategy 4: Create
a two-tiered system:
Complete a program focusing on core functions of the school and demonstrate
Professional licensure: Demonstrate ability to work with school
staff and others to improve school and classroom practices and student
Strategy 5: Open initial
licensure to a candidate with a master's degree, demonstrated leadership
skills and a proven record of increasing student achievement.
Strategy 6: Create
state leadership academies that focus on teams from low-performing schools
and on continuous and comprehensive school reform.
Dr. Gene Bottoms, Senior
Vice President, Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)
Task Force Activities
The assistant superintendent
for teacher education and licensure at the Virginia Department of Education
briefly updated the commission on the activities of DOE/SCHEV Task Force
to Evaluate and Redesign Preparation Programs and Professional Development
for School Leaders. Led by the superintendent of public instruction and
the director of the State Council of Higher Education, the task force
will explore a variety of existing and recommended strategies for preparing
K-12 education leaders. Already, six issues have come to the forefront
in task force deliberations: (i) the use of internships; (ii) the existence
of a principal shortage despite the fact that the supply of endorsed individuals
exceeds the number of education leadership positions; (iii) the lack of
collaborative partnerships between university preparation and the hiring
school divisions; (iv) real as well as perceived barriers to the principalship;
(v) the role, purpose, and intent of approved preparation programs and
their impact on performance; and (vi) the relationship between the community,
the task force, and educators. The task force expects to make tentative
recommendations in the spring, with recommendations to the commission
and VCU's Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute later in summer 2003.
While it is anticipated that the commission will address legislative and
policy issues, the task force will focus more on regulatory and policy
As the work of the commission
and task force unfolded, efforts of the Department of Education to implement
assessment of principals based on the Interstate School Leaders Licensure
Consortium (ISLLC) standards have been placed on hold. In 1998, the Commonwealth's
preparation of principals shifted from a coursework focus to a competency-based
process. A passing score, however, is still required on the School Leaders
Licensure Assessment (SLLA); however, a full-time internship as a principal
or one-year of successful, full-time principal experience may be substituted.
The ISLLC standards were adopted in Virginia, and a 100 percent match
was determined between those standards and the SLLA.
Defining an "internship"
for purposes of endorsement in administration remains a challenge. Standards
for these internships to ensure a valuable training and "hands-on"
experience are needed, as some individuals serving "full-time"
internships nonetheless hold other employment simultaneously.
An alternative route for licensure
for superintendent allows the candidate to hold a master's degree, have
"held a senior leadership position such as Chief Executive Officer
or senior military officer." Discussion focused on the employment
of such "nontraditional" candidates as superintendents in large
urban school divisions such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City.
In contrasting the principalship with the superintendency, members cited
the principal's role as instructional leader and the superintendent's
Issues for Further Study
Members discussed potential
recommendations and issues for further study. The 2001 Virginia Principals
Study was cited as clearly documenting a shortage of principals in Virginia.
Addressing supply and demand concerns, the study's associated survey revealed
that 56 percent of principals and assistant principals intend to retire
within nine years.
The commission declined to make
any specific recommendations at its September meeting. However, its discussion
focused on a variety of areas, including requiring training in data-driven
decision-making, strategic planning skills, and communication and management.
The commission noted that licensure and related regulatory changes were
better left to the Board of Education at this time.
In considering related candidate
pool issues, the commission discussed program accreditation and alignment
of training with "real world" issues and further examination
by the Board of Education, SCHEV, or other entities of the effectiveness
of principal and superintendent education and training programs in preparing
educational leaders for the increasingly challenging issues facing public
schools in the 21st century. Accountability for training programs as well
as a field-based component in principal licensure were also discussed.
Again, the commission deferred any specific action at this time, as the
work of the BOE/SCHEV task force continues.
Mentoring also received commission
focus, as members cited the possibility of requesting the board and the
state council to develop, as part of its approved programs, guidelines
for mentorships. Standards for internships as well as payment for mentors
were also discussed. Leadership academies also garnered attention; the
Department of Education has recently written a grant for funding such
an academy in the Commonwealth. The commission will await the results
of the grant application before making recommendations on this issue.
Also discussed was modification
of board regulations to allow teaching experience in higher education
to satisfy the current teaching requirement for individuals holding doctorate
degrees in education administration to obtain a superintendent's license.
Current regulations limit the required teaching experience to the K-12
classroom. The commission noted the possibility of making such a modification,
but requiring an internship or practicum in the K-12 classroom for these
individuals. It was noted that such alternative teaching experience would
be less appropriate for principals, who must be the school instructional
The commission considered requesting
the Board of Education and the State Council of Higher Education to coordinate
to ensure that the performance and leadership standards described in the
board's Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria
for Teachers, Administrators, and Superintendents are reflected in preparation
and training programs for principals and superintendents in institutions
of higher education. Currently, evaluation criteria for principals, assistant
principals, central officer personnel, and superintendents are based on
five areas: planning and assessment; instructional leadership; safety
and organizational management for learning; communication and community
relations; and professionalism.
The commission plans to continue
to consider a range of issues as it moves toward the conclusion of its
first year of study and develops potential recommendations for the 2003
Session of the General Assembly. Such topics may include incentives and
disincentives, such as credit for out-of-state service and revised staffing
levels. Currently, the SOQ staffing levels for elementary school principals
and assistant principals is one half-time to 299 students, and one each
full-time at 300 students. The 2002 JLARC Review of Elementary and Secondary
School Funding (February 2002) recommended that the Board of Education
"should examine the Standards of Accreditation provisions for assistant
principals and the use of half-time principals at elementary schools with
enrollments below 300 pupils" (see Table 1).
Comparison of State and Locally Funded Instructional FTEs
with Position FTEs Recognized by State Standards
JLARC Review of Elementary and Secondary School
Funding, Table 16 (February 2002)
||No. of State and
Locally Funded Positions
||No. of Positions
Based on SOQ Standards
||% Actual Positions
Exceed SOQ Positions
Source: JLARC staff analysis
of the JLARC survey of school divisions, FTE data reported for the Annual
School Report to DOE, and JLARC staff execution of DOE's SOQ model
using 1999-2000 pupil counts.
Other issues that may garner
future commission review are incentive rewards for exceptional service,
portability of benefits, transfer of sick leave, relocation or housing
incentives, and compensatory time. Flexibility and hiring authority, potential
job-sharing and delegations of authority, additional assistance for struggling
schools, professional development concerns (such as sabbaticals and incentive
grants), and annual performance evaluations for probationary and continuing
contracting principals may also be reviewed.
The commission's next meeting
is scheduled for October 18 in Richmond.
The Hon. Phillip A. Hamilton
For information, contact:
Kathleen G. Harris
Division of Legislative Services
| Legislative Services | General