Response of Programs of Educational Leadership Preparation to Academic and Political Contexts




Robey, Philip V.

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Research has determined school leaders as the primary influence to overall school success and second only to actual instruction in influencing student achievement. Given the importance of principals, programs of educational leadership preparation have been under scrutiny and pressure to reform by political and academic entities. With the advent of the Standards for Advanced Programs in Educational Leadership in 2002, programs have been challenged to reform, yet how and whether this reform has taken place remains unanswered. This study uses a mixed methods design to examine how programs leading to certification in school administration have responded. One hundred eighty-one program chairs completed an online survey, with ten then participating in semi-structured phone interviews regarding their perceptions of reform. Data from this study indicate considerable reform related to twenty-four key program and eleven field-based elements, many of which were pre-existing features before redesign. Most pronounced are reforms involving an increased use of web-based and electronic student assessments, an increase in the number of courses offered online, the requirement for annual course updates, the use of teaching strategies by program faculty that target various learning styles, and more efficient course delivery through classes that are made easily accessible. Field experiences are perceived as longer, both in required hours and requirements, and having greater integration with leadership courses. The main influences driving reform are input from program faculty as well as oversight from state educational offices and accreditation agencies. Analysis showed few differences in responses for university type or UCEA membership status. Qualitative data confirmed these findings but also detailed the pace of reform as varying from one program to another based on levels of pressure from the state and accrediting agencies. Concerns about redesign were centered mostly on increased time requirements for student assessment, and loss of academic freedom and intellectual discourse as a result of mandated national reforms.



Educational, Academic, Leadership, NCATE, Preparation, Standards