HJR 20/SJR 58: Commission to Review, Study, and Reform Educational Leadership

June 3, 2003

Adopted by the 2002 Session of the General Assembly, HJR 20 and SJR 58 established a two-year, 21-member commission to “review, study and reform educational leadership.” The study is supported by one of only 15 national State Action for Educational Leadership Project (SAELP) grants from the Wallace Reader’s Digest Funds, sought by and awarded to the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute (CEPI) at Virginia Commonwealth University, on behalf of the Department of Education and the Commonwealth.

Consistent with its legislative directive, the commission met five times in 2002, receiving testimony from school administrators, education experts, and representatives of state and national education leadership organizations. The commission’s 2003 Interim Report (House Document No. 14) included six recommendations, which address:

  • Alignment of administrative licensure requirements with the evaluation criteria for principals, administrators, and central office instructional personnel;
  • Incorporation of Board of Education performance and leadership standards in preparation and training programs for principals and superintendents in institutions of higher education (this recommendation was supported by HJR 608, which was passed by the 2003 Session);
  • The development of guidelines for mentorships for administrators within approved administrator training programs;
  • The development and implementation of models for internships for aspiring principals and assistant principals;
  • Alternative licensure routes and sources of training for principals and assistant principals; and
  • The potential delegation of school board authority over the hiring and termination of instructional personnel by legislative action (this recommendation was supported by HJ 570, which was tabled by the House Committee on Privileges and Elections).

The commission is to complete its work by November 30, 2003, and submit its final written findings and recommendations to the 2004 Session of the General Assembly.

Fairfax Program

The Fairfax County Public Schools’ LEAD (Learning, Empowering, Assessing & Developing) initiative is designed to improve professional preparation of school leaders at all levels, support succession planning, and increase student achievement. The Fairfax LEAD program is one of 12 such school division initiatives nationwide funded by DeWitt Wallace Readers’ Digest grants as part of the LEADERS Count program. The one-year, $1 million grant is renewable for a total of five years.

The Fairfax initiative targets preparation as well as actual readiness for the school leadership. The program is driven by four competencies identified as essential to effective educational leadership: the abilities to lead people, including the school community and the community at large; lead learning; manage the business of the school; and manage one’s own career and personal development.

LEAD targets 82 schools (60 elementary, 12 middle, and 10 high schools) that have at least 20 percent of their respective student bodies eligible for free and reduced lunches, diverse socioeconomic and ethnic student populations, a demonstrated upward trend in student achievement indicators (SAI), and an experienced principal at the helm.

LEAD incorporates focused intentional development opportunities for educational leaders and aspiring leaders, leadership development programs, and best-practice, research-based learning opportunities offered by private entities. The program includes 22 administrative interns in the elementary and secondary schools, leadership development for support personnel, pre-service learning opportunities, and instructional leadership training. Thirty-one former interns are now employed as assistant principals; Fairfax supports the intern positions with grant funds and local moneys. The school system hires other teachers to replace those personnel participating in internships.

Redesign Task Force

The executive director of SCHEV reviewed the preliminary recommendations of the Redesign Task Force, and noted that the Superintendent of Public Instruction would be presenting the approved recommendations at the next commission meeting. The preliminary recommendations address the creation of leadership academies, general leadership studies, assessment requirements for school administrators, linking professional development to school improvement, and allowing institutions of higher education to be entrepreneurial in crafting services to meet the needs of the various school divisions.

Commission Plans

Areas identified by the commission for possible consideration in 2003 include the creation of a leadership academy in Virginia, the use of internships and mentorships, passage of an assessment as a condition of licensure of a school administrator, retention issues and incentives such as benefits portability, and equity of access to leadership programs by school divisions.

The commission will hold its remaining two meetings on Tuesday, September 16, and Monday, November 17, at 1:00 p.m. in House Room D in the General Assembly Building.

The Hon. Phillip A. Hamilton

For information, contact:
Kathleen G. Harris
Division of Legislative Services



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