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New Statement To Guide Board on Administration

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Members of the National Policy Board for Educational Administration, who last year drafted a sweeping set of proposals for reforming the profession, have drafted a new, less specific "statement of purpose" that will guide the board's work as it moves to create a system of national certification for school administrators.

The new statement effectively replaces last year's report as the document the board will use to "launch its reform effort," said Scott D. Thomson, executive secretary of the board.

The full board, which is composed of representatives of the 10 major education associations concerned with school administration, must still approve the new statement.

The board's initial report, "Improving the Preparation of School Administrators: An Agenda For Reform," offered nine detailed proposals for overhauling the recruitment, training, and assessment of administrators. (See Education Week, May 24, 1989.)

Among other recommendations, the report stated that administrators should be required to hold doctorates to be eligible for national certification and state licensure.

It also suggested that prospective administrators be required to score in the top fourth of those taking a national standardized test in order to qualify for a preparation program.

Specialist and master's degrees in educational administration would have been abolished under the board's recommendations.

The report was presented last spring in Charlottesville, Va., to a gathering of 100 political and education leaders, who were asked to consider strategies for implementing its recommendations.

However, at that time several of the report's recommendations were sharply criticized as being unrealistic or too expensive.

'More Constructive'

The new statement of purpose, Mr. Thomson said, is "more constructive and beneficial" than the original report, which was written by a task force and approved by the full board before the May meeting.

Mr. Thomson said an "honest misunderstanding" lead several board members to believe that the purpose of last year's meeting was "to discuss the reform paper and to offer suggestions for modification, change, and revision," and not to talk about implementing a finished document.

But Patrick B. Forsyth, executive director of the University Council for Educational Administration and a member of the national board, said last week that he believed the board members clearly understood they had approved a final report.

"We'll have to agree to disagree on our interpretation of those events," he said.

Members of the national policy board were stung by the criticism, Mr. Forsyth said, and have now "backed off" from the strongly worded reform agenda.

"The notion of the national policy board was that, if finally the profession in all its fragmented pieces can come together and agree, what a powerful voice that would be," Mr. Forsyth said. "And then the first time we try it, we get a chorus of backsliders. We've lost a tremendous opportunity."

Less Prescriptive

The new "statement of purpose" reaffirms the goals of the national policy board, but is less specific than the original report in several areas.

The document recommends creating two levels of national certification for entry-level and advanced administrators. Only advanced-level candidates for certification would be required to hold doctorates.

Rather than advocating two years of full-time study in doctoral programs, as did the previous report, the new statement calls for one year of full-time study.

The new document also does not mention assessing the analytic abilities of candidates for entry into preparation programs, or abolishing specialist and master's degrees in administration.

While reiterating the need for systematic, sequential training programs for administrators, the new statement does not mention how many faculty members should teach in such programs. The previous report said at least five full-time professors would be needed to maintain a high-quality program.

Thomas A. Shannon, executive director of the National School Boards Association, said the board's initial report was too specific.

"To get that involved in that much detail, you're almost prescribing a single approach," Mr. Shannon said, "and if there's one thing this country does not like, it is a single approach."

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