Teach Principals 'Leadership,' Report Says
New Orleans--The American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education is calling for substantial changes in the way colleges and universities prepare school administrators.
In a report released here last week at its annual meeting, aacte urges institutions that train administrators to shift the focus of their programs from management training to "leadership education."
"Currently, most principals are trained as managers and are simply not prepared to meet schools' instructional-leadership needs," argues the report, which was put together by the association's 11-member subcommittee on the preparation of school administrators.
Unrelated to 'Leadership'
"Administrator training is not tied to the leadership requirements of the job," it says. "Courses are unrelated to what administrators do or should do."
Changes in the status and authority of school principals that are likely to occur as a result of recent moves to professionalize teaching make the "restructuring" of preparation programs particularly important, according to the eight-page report.
As schools are restructured and teachers assume a greater role in school decisionmaking, "school leadership will become much more connected with managing results and less tied to the management of programs and processes," the document states.
It recommends that administrator-training programs place more emphasis on "curriculum and instruction, learning, teaching, evaluation, assessment, philosophy" and other educational-leadership issues.
New Focus Proposed
Current programs, it contends, give disproportionate attention to such topics as administrative theory, finance, law, and resource management.
"It is very important that the training of administrators focus on teaching and learning, and not just the management process," the report's author, Mark R. Shibles, said at a conference session detailing the recommendations.
"In order to effectively administer a school, you have to know what is going on in it at the teaching level, not just the management level," said Mr. Shibles, a professor of educational leadership at the University of Connecticut.
The report enumerates a variety of problems that it says plague training programs for school administrators.
Most programs, it states, are easy to enter and not difficult to complete; resemble graduate programs in the arts and sciences rather than professional preparation programs; provide little field experience; and emphasize written communication, even though administrators typical8ly depend on oral communication in their work.
Proposed Changes Enumerated
The document lists more than 40 specific recommendations that "may provide a basis for changes" in leadership education.
Among these are proposals that:
The number of educational-administration courses be reduced.
Fewer and better students be admitted to administration programs.
Students take a planned sequence of courses and not move through programs merely by amassing credits.
Initiatives to identify and recruit potential leaders be developed cooperatively with the public schools. Particular attention, the report says, should be given to recruiting minorities and women through school-university collaborations, the use of school incentives, and scholarships.
Programs provide useful, job-related information, require an internship through collaborative arrangements with schools, and use more practicing school administrators as instructors.
University faculty members have administrative and teaching experience in schools, and receive salaries that correspond to those of practitioners.
Copies of the report are available free of charge from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 1 Dupont Circle, Suite 610, Washington, D.C. 20036.