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Critical Friends Working Toward Program Improvement While Building a Partnership


In September of 2018, University of North Georgia (UNG) Educational Leadership staff began partnership discussions with Gwinnett County Schools. The UNG educational leadership program went through several iterations and was working toward revising the program to align with the Principal Pipeline Research from the Wallace Foundation. This revision also met the requirements for the new Tier 1 certification program implemented by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. We were new to the work and very interested in the successful, data-driven work Gwinnett County Schools Leadership development programs.

The initial discussions were about the application process and how we screen candidates, as well as, how we measured the success of our candidates beyond the obvious licensing test by the state.  This was the beginning of deep thinking for us about our program. We quickly learned that to build a quality program, we needed to attract the best candidates and track them through their placements in schools as leaders to determine the effectiveness of our work. We were most impressed with Gwinnett’s systems for measuring the success of their leadership development programs. This was great timing for our program as our Tier I participants had just completed the first cohort.  

The quality measures divide the process program improvement into six domains. We shared our practices in our Tier I program in each of the six areas, collecting evidence to support our work with our critical friends from Gwinnett.  At the same time, Gwinnett County Schools examined its practices in its principal preparation program sharing with us as critical friends. The process was transparent and helpful.  We both walked away with fresh ideas for improving our programs.

Principal Pipelines Retain Newly Placed Principals and Increase Student Achievement


Research indicates that effective school leadership is associated with better outcomes for students and schools. A high-quality school leader affects their teachers and students for many years. School districts are also instrumental in affecting teacher and student outcomes by playing a pivotal role in supporting their school leaders.

The Wallace Foundation partnered with six large and urban school districts across the nation to study the effects of Principal Pipelines from 2011 to 2016. The purpose was to examine whether a comprehensive principal pipeline would be more effective than business-as-usual approaches to the preparation and management of school leaders. The term, principal pipeline, encompasses the following components: 1) leader standards that guide all pipeline activities, 2) preservice preparation opportunities for assistant principals and principals, 3) selective hiring and placement, and 4) on-the-job induction, evaluation, and support. School districts were also required to produce and implement systems to further develop and sustain the principal pipeline outside of the study’s original time frame.

Watch Livestream Presentation on Findings from Groundbreaking Study on the Principal Pipeline

AACTE invites you to view a livestreamed presentation and panel discussion about the results of a new, groundbreaking study by the RAND Corporation on the impact of principal pipelines on districts, principals and students. The livestream is on Monday, April 8 from 10:30am – 12:00 noon ET. Register now!

Research has long confirmed principals’ influence on student achievement and the role districts play in shaping school leadership. Yet, until now, there’s been no evidence that districts approaching school leadership strategically and systematically could achieve benefits districtwide.

Launched in 2001, the Wallace Foundation’s Principal Pipeline Initiative (PPI) sought to test this hypothesis. The foundation funded six districts that implemented four interlocking components of a principal pipeline: rigorous leader standards, high-quality pre-service training, hiring procedures informed by data, and on-the-job evaluation and support.

Watch Livestream Recording: Improving Principal Preparation Programs Panel Discussion

In December, the Wallace Foundation hosted a livestreamed discussion on Improving Principal Preparation Programs as the culmination of a two-day event for members of its University Principal Preparation Initiative Professional Learning Community (UPPI PLC). This initiative focuses on redesigning university principal preparation programs at seven universities in an effort to resolve the disconnect between what was happening in the universities to prepare educational leaders and the real-world demands of the job. The panel discussion highlighted the experiences of one UPPI university, Florida Atlantic University, and their district partners.

During this engaging discussion, panelists highlighted the importance of maintaining routines of collaboration so partnerships can advance and how those partnerships played a key role in the success of realigning the experience for educational leaders moving from preparation to school leadership roles. “Relationships and having the right people on the bus makes the difference,” said Ted Toomer of Broward County Schools. Panelists also spoke about the importance of tracking systems to better learn from the data to improve programs and cited that superintendent support for the work is critical.

Webinar Series on Principal Preparation Wrap Up

AACTE hosted its final webinar of this year’s series on principal preparation sponsored by The Wallace Foundation on Wednesday, December 12. As co-hosts, we discussed “Principal Preparation for the Complexity of the Work” with invited guests: Dr. Traci Gile, a principal at Lopez Elementary in Fort Collins, Colorado, Travis Hargreaves, an assistant principal at Cherry Creek Academy in Denver, Colorado, and Donald Kotnik, an assistant principal at Mountain View High School in Loveland, Colorado. Presenters discussed how Colorado State University’s (CSU) School Leadership Institute helped bridge their preparation program to practice for participants.

The Institute consists of two retreats for CSU graduates who are currently in their first few years of school leadership. Institute fellows on the panel shared how their involvement not only improved their practice as leaders, but offered a desperately needed support network for a job that is often isolating. Presenters also shared the importance of contributing to the ongoing research project associated with the Institute and communicating the challenges of the profession through focus groups. This research, and their voices in the focus groups, will not only impact current preparation programs, but also the larger professional community.

Radio Show Profiles Colorado State University’s School Leadership Institute

AACTE members Donna Cooner and Wendy Fothergill at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins were featured in a recent episode of Education Talk Radio to discuss their university’s School Leadership Institute. CSU launched the institute a year ago to identify effective ways to support new PK-12 principals and administrators.

The institute helps identify effective ways to support principals in their critical first year on the job based on feedback from recent program graduates. The goals of the Institute are

AACTE Tech Committee Plans Preconference Symposium for #AACTE19

Members of AACTE’s Committee on Innovation and Technology at the 2018 National Technology Leadership Summit in Washington, DC (L to R Shaunna BuShell, Guy Trainin, Jon Clausen, Lara Luetkehans, and Arlene Borthwick)

 

At the AACTE 71st Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, the AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (I&T) will host a free preconference symposium Thursday, February 21, on “Action Steps to Address the Challenge of Integrating Technology in Teacher Preparation.” Members of the AACTE Committee, leaders from the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, and representatives from accreditation and standards organizations will share strategies, exemplars, and tools for education leaders to make informed decisions, develop processes, and assess the impact of their efforts to infuse technology throughout educator preparation programs. Participants will focus on four themes related to action steps education leaders can take to address the challenge of technology integration throughout teacher education. These include

New Webinar Helps Principals Prepare for the Complexity of the Work

Strong leadership is a necessary catalyst for student learning, yet the complexity of the work makes it sometimes hard to focus on the role of instructional leader. AACTE will host a free webinar, Supporting Novice Principals on the Job: Principal Preparation for the Complexity of the Work on Wednesday, December 12, from 3:00-4:00 p.m. EST. Please tune in to attend the webinar, part of a series on principal leadership sponsored by The Wallace Foundation.

Topics will include

Join a National Conversation on University Principal Preparation Redesign

AACTE invites you to view a livestreamed panel discussion on preliminary findings from The Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) at 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, December 12, 2018. Register here.

Many district and university leaders agree that most university-based programs do not prepare principals to reflect the real-world demands of the job according to a 2016 survey. Consequently, seven universities participating in the Wallace initiative set out to redesign their programs to be more effective. A 2018 independent study by the RAND Corporation, Launching a Redesign of University Principal Preparation Programs, now suggests that the universities’ complex redesign efforts are beginning to pay off—through comprehensive, interdependent partnerships with local districts and the state.

New Webinar Focuses on Mentoring Novice Principals in Difficult Situations

AACTE will host a free webinar on principal leadership on Wednesday, November 28, from 3:00-4:00 p.m. EST. Please tune in to attend the Supporting Novice Principals on the Job: Mentoring Support in Difficult Situations webinar, part of a series on principal leadership sponsored by The Wallace Foundation.

Topics will include

  • When to seek outside support
  • Trust building in the mentoring role
  • Questioning strategies for mentors and mentees
  • Structures for principal mentorship

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