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Educational Leadership Preconference Focuses on Interaction of Policy, Practice


On February 28, AACTE hosted a daylong preconference workshop titled “Strengthening the Pipeline to Transform the Principalship,” sponsored by The Wallace Foundation. The event, held just prior to the 70th AACTE Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, was attended by PK-12 and higher education leaders from across the nation and engaged participants in presentations and conversation on educational leadership through the lenses of policy and practice.

The agenda was broken into two thematic segments. The first segment highlighted how policy, partnerships, and resources influence strategies to renew principal preparation programs. The second included presentations about key policies that influence the renewal of principal preparation programs.

University Principal Preparation Initiative and CSU School Leadership Institute

The first thematic segment included four presentations focused around The Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) and 2016 report Improving University Principal Preparation Programs: Five Themes from the Field. UPPI is a $47 million project that funds seven universities, along with their state and district partners, to develop models for improving university-run principal preparation programs.

Nicholas Pelzer, program officer for The Wallace Foundation, provided an overview of UPPI and an update on the work undertaken by the institutions and partners involved in the initiative. Following his presentation, project leads from two of the seven UPPI institutions – Daniel Reyes-Guerra and Robert Shockley from Florida Atlantic University and Robert Corley and Willis Walter from Virginia State University – highlighted details from their project work, including how state policy and school district partnerships play a role in addressing specific local goals and challenges.

The final presentation featured the Colorado State University (CSU) School Leadership Institute. Donna Cooner, Wendy Fothergill, and Juliana Searle provided insight into the institute’s work to examine outcomes of CSU’s educational leadership program and how to improve support for new principals using the Improving University Principal Preparation Programs: Five Themes from the Field report. (Cooner and Fothergill are also moderators for AACTE’s new principal preparation webinar series. Click here to learn more and register for their March 21 webinar.)

Policy and Practice in Principal Preparation

The second thematic segment featured presentations by representatives from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO); the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR); and the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), each highlighting key policy areas that influence practice and program renewal in educational leadership.

Michelle Young, executive director of UCEA, launched the segment with a presentation about the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders and new National Educational Leadership Preparation standards. Jane West, AACTE consultant, followed with a presentation about the Every Student Succeeds Act as related to principal preparation. Mary Brownell, CEEDAR Center director, and Kaylan Connally, senior program associate, CCSSO, concluded the thematic segment with a presentation about the National Collaborative on Inclusive Principal Preparation.

The agenda also included opportunities for participants to consider ways to apply the information presented through local action. Attendees engaged in a series of table conversations to further explore the session themes through local and shared perspectives. Leaders of the AACTE Principal Preparation Professional Learning Community (PLC) topical action group (TAG), launched in 2017, also met briefly with preconference participants to share the TAG’s goals and ways to become involved. Click here to learn more about the Principal Preparation PLC TAG and how you can join.

AACTE is grateful to The Wallace Foundation for supporting this day of learning and discussion. Click here to learn more about The Wallace Foundation’s School Leadership research and initiatives, including the latest episode of the Principal Pipeline Initiative podcast series.

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Amanda Lester

Director, Programs & Professional Learning, AACTE