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Georgia Panels Asks Board To Raise Standards for Administrators

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Finding wide disparities in current practices, Georgia's Professional Standards Commission has recommended that the state board of education raise standards for the training, licensing, and evaluation of school administrators.

Specifically, the 20-member commission called for a more rigorous process of assessing the skills of education administrators, higher standards for university programs that train them, and stricter licensing requirements for elementary-school principals.

The commission, which was set up by the legislature, based its recommendations on the findings of a 1983 survey of the state's 187 public-school superintendents, who were asked to evaluate the principals in their school systems, and on those of a 1982 survey of 1,000 principals in the state.

Core Curriculum

Eighty-five percent of the 182 superintendents responding to the survey said they were "entirely" or "mostly" satisfied with the performance of their principals. A majority (57 percent) also said the quality of applicants for administrative positions had improved over the past five years.

But while the superintendents identified "instructional leadership" as the principal's most important role, only half said they were "entirely" or "mostly" satisified with their principals' ability to evaluate instruction.

In addition to courses in how to supervise a school's instructional program, the superintendents identified five areas in which principals should be trained during their academic careers. These included curriculum development, personnel evaluation, general school administration, education and the law, and staff development.

On the basis of this finding, the standards commission recommended that the state board mandate a "core curriculum" for educational-administration programs6that would include courses in the cited areas as well as classes on educational leadership.

Selection and Recruitment

Ninety percent of the superintendents surveyed reported that their school systems did not have published policies or guidelines to help select or recruit principals. The commission noted "no consistency" in the selection process. In particular, it pointed to a finding of the 1982 survey that only 20 percent of elementary principals had received a bachelor's degree in elementary education.

The commission called on local school systems to develop and publish well-defined written policies and procedures to recruit and select principals. It also recommended the establishment of a model program to help in the early identification and recruitment of potential administrators and the creation of a "leadership academy" that would work with school administrators to strengthen principals in their instructional role.

Written Evaluations

Ninety-five percent of the superintendents reported that they evaluated principals in some manner, most commonly with an annual checklist or written evaluation. Most superintendents said they used these evaluations to suggest or recommend inservice training for principals.

In response to those findings, the commission recommended that school systems at a minimum provide an annual written evaluation of each principal.

In assessing principals' influence over various policy areas, the super-intendents reported that principals have the most authority in evaluating instruction, formulating school-discipline procedures, and determining extracurricular programs. They also reported that principals have the most say in hiring and retention decisions, deployment of school personnel, and school-level governance. Their authority is minimal over school budgets and the management of federally mandated programs, those superintendents surveyed said.

According to Suzann R. Harrison, executive secretary for the standards commission, the state board will probably consider the recommendations of the commission along with those of its own task force on school leadership later this year. The board is also expected to weigh relevant recommendations from a gubernatorial Education Review Commission, which is scheduled to complete a report next month.

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