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Coalition Launches Effort To Establish Certification Board for Administrators

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A national coalition dedicated to overhauling the recruitment, training, and certification of school administrators has formed a task force to study the establishment of a national standards board for the profession.

The proposed board, which would develop rigorous new certification standards, would function much like the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Beginning in 1993, the teaching board plans to offer experienced teachers the opportunity to become certified in 29 different fields, based on in-depth assessments.

The National Policy Board for Educational Administration, which comprises the executive secretaries and presidents of 10 major education associations, first suggested a board to certify administrators in a report last May.

The board's sharply worded critique said the current system of training and licensing administrators is "recognizable more by its weaknesses than by its strengths."

After meeting with 100 education leaders to discuss the report's recommendations, members of the panel agreed in July to begin developing a strategy for establishing a professional standards board. The task force is also expected to recommend ways to strengthen the accreditation of programs that train administrators.

The task force's creation reflects the board's willingness to forge ahead with its controversial task, said David G. Imig, the board's chairman and executive director of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

"They know there is significant disagreement on many of the recommendations, and there's a feeling they can be improved," Mr. Imig said. "But I don't see any lessening of the commitment to the reform of school administration."

As now envisioned, the professional standards board would consist primarily of practicing administrators, and would aim to "regulate admission into the profession," said Scott D. Thomson, chairman of the policy board's task force and executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

"We feel in the long run that the national certification badge will be important and significant enough that it will influence states toward those standards that have been established by the national certification board," he said.

Mr. Thomson said the policy board has contemplated the new8standards organization issuing credentials in four categories--principal, superintendent, business manager, and curriculum specialist.

The board will continue to discuss several recommendations made in its report, including whether candidates for national certification should hold doctorates in educational administration.

The board had also called for eliminating master's degree programs in educational administration, and for abolishing specialist degrees for educators who will be in charge of an entire school or school system.

Other recommendations include dramatically raising entrance standards to administrative-training programs; strengthening the quality of faculty in such programs; and recruiting more minority candidates.

Mr. Imig said major points of disagreement include the high educational levels candidates would have to meet, which potentially could exclude minorities; questions about whether a doctorate is necessary for elementary-school principals or administrators of small school districts; and differing views over the content of administrator-training programs.

The task force is expected to submit a report to the national policy board next month, Mr. Imig said.

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