Principals in Maryland soon will have to know more than just how to keep their schools running smoothly, under new state licensing rules.
Starting next summer, applicants for Maryland school administrator licenses must show that they were trained in a program that focuses on eight skills spelled out by the state that are aimed at the improvement of teaching and learning.
Approved by the state board of education last month, the rule is meant to prompt changes in Maryland universities that train school leaders, said Mary Cary, an assistant superintendent in the state department of education.
“What we find when we look at our programs for administrator preparation is that they have been in place for many years, and they have not placed instructional leadership as the driving force for their content,” she said.
Universities elsewhere are feeling similar pressure to retool the way they train principals. A recent report by Arthur E. Levine, the president of Teachers College, Columbia University, said the quality of most such programs ranges from “inadequate to appalling.” (“Study Blasts Leadership Preparation,” March 16, 2005)
In Maryland, the skills in which the state now says administrators must be trained include ensuring the proper use of performance data, frequent student assessments, and classroom observations to inform instructional decisions.
Each skill is described in a new document, the “Maryland Instructional Leadership Framework,” that department officials drafted in consultation with education leaders from across the state.
Already, the framework is shaping the work of the state’s education schools. Towson University, outside Baltimore, is planning a new, degree-offering department of instructional leadership and professional development.
Raymond Lorion, the dean of Towson’s school of education, said the state’s new expectations for principals provided much of the impetus for the effort. “An instructional leader’s real purpose is to help teachers find the right vehicle to get that child to acquire knowledge and skills,” he said.
A version of this article appeared in the August 10, 2005 edition of Education Week