Characteristics of Teachers Nominated for an Accelerated Principal Preparation Program

Characteristics of Teachers Nominated for an Accelerated Principal Preparation Program

Steve J. Rios (Florida Atlantic University, USA) and Daniel Reyes-Guerra (Florida Atlantic University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/javet.2012040104
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Abstract

This article reports the initial evaluation results of a new accelerated, job-embedded principal preparation program funded by a Race to the Top Grant (U.S. Department of Education, 2012a) in Florida. Descriptive statistics, t-tests, and chi-square analyses were used to describe the characteristics of a group of potential applicants nominated to the program by their principals. Demographic and education-related variables for the group were compared to a group of self-selected students enrolled in an existing educational leadership master’s program at the same public university. Initial statistical analysis revealed that more than two-thirds of the nominated teachers belonged to a minority group and had not majored in education as undergraduates. These findings have immediate implications for this new program and for research related to the identification of potential future educational leaders.
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Introduction

During the past decade, a consistent stream of government reports, conference proceedings, research studies, and issue briefs have sounded a clarion call for education reform, including changes related to how educational leaders are being prepared to lead American schools (Grossman, 2011; Levine, 2005; Orr, King, & LaPointe, 2010; UCEA, 2011). The central importance of school leaders to improving student outcomes has been known for many years (Davis, Darling-Hammond, LaPointe, Meyerson, Hallinger, & Heck, 1996; Miller, 2003). Leithwood, Harris, and Hopkins (2008) cited evidence from dozens of empirical studies, analyzed in meta-analysis, and determined that leadership explains between 5% and 7% of the difference in pupil learning and achievement. Although that percent seems small, it is one-quarter of the total difference across schools (12%-20%). During the past decade the debate on the effect of strong administrative leadership has developed, with most research clearly indicating important potential positive (or negative) effects of principals (headmaster, school director, etc.) (Herrington & Wills, 2005; McGuire, 2002).

In July, 2009, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced $4.35 billion in competitive funds for an initiative titled the Race to the Top (RTTT) (White House, 2012). This major new educational initiative leveraged the availability of hundreds of millions of new funding dollars to encourage states to demonstrate their openness to substantially change their educational laws and policies to advance a specific Federal government-backed educational agenda. Some of the long-term outcomes of the agenda would directly impact systems in place, mostly at colleges of education, to train educational leaders – principals and assistant principals. By August of 2010, the U.S. Department of Education had awarded Race to the Top (RTTT) grants to 11 states and the District of Columbia. Florida received $700 million (U.S. Department of Education, 2012b).

RTTT emphasizes the following reform areas: designing and implementing rigorous standards and high-quality assessments, attracting and keeping highly-effective teachers and leaders, supporting data systems that inform decisions and improve instruction, using innovation and effective approaches to turn-around struggling schools, demonstrating and sustaining education reform. The “sustaining education reform” aspect of the initiative includes plans to promote “other conditions favorable to innovation and reform” (White House, 2009, p. 1). This initial study is focused on the leadership reforms promoted by the RTTT initiative.

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