[By Dr. Kay Uchiyama, an assistant professor in the School of Education and Counseling] As the Regis Educational Leadership for Innovation and Change (formerly known as the Principal Licensure) Program Coordinator, I often talk with prospective principal candidates and statewide district human resources directors about the need for good principals; the impact of the new Educator Effectiveness Bill (SB-191) on principals and teachers, and the ways that Regis meets those needs.
When discussing the projected need for good principals, I reference Colorado statistics.
To date, 41% of the principals in Colorado are aged 50 and older. (Personal communication with Katy Anthes, CDE Executive Director for the Educator Effectiveness Implementation, 11/21/11). Fifty is not old for an educator by any means, especially one who has entered the field later than the traditional university graduate. However those traditional students, who at age 22 or 23 entered the education workforce, could have as much as 30+ years in Colorado, making them eligible for retirement. As a result, the next 10 years could see a tremendous turnover of school level administrators.
The topic of the implementation of SB-191, the Educator Effectiveness Bill, is uppermost in the minds of educators and human resource directors. Implementation of SB-191, slated for school year 2013, will dramatically change school principal evaluations. This law requires that, “at least 50 percent of a principal’s evaluation be determined by the academic growth of the students in the principal’s school.”
Because of this shift in focus, the curriculum for principal licensure will need to address the needs of the new law.
SB-191 also changes how teachers are evaluated. As with principals, the law requires a minimum of 50% of a teacher’s evaluation be based on the academic growth of students. Principals and their “designees” will have to know how to best help teachers train and retrain in order to be effective as described by the law.
Based on these two areas of focus, the question that emerges is: how does Regis ensure that principal candidates have the requisite knowledge to be successful in their work as well as address these new state requirements?
Regis is meeting this need in a number of different ways.
The first is through curriculum. The curriculum is high quality, research based, and promotes theory into practice. We are constantly reviewing and updating curriculum (when necessary) not only to reflect the most up-to-date information and practice but also to be congruent with SB-191.
For example we are reviewing and revising the course, Managing Assessment Data, to ensure that principal candidates have the theory, knowledge, and skill to analyze and use their school data and help teachers increase student learning.
Second, the field experience and internship activities that connect theory and practice are also research based and consistent with the new law. Field experiences are designed so that principal candidates can apply their new knowledge and skills in real world settings throughout their program.
To illustrate, principals must be able to guide teachers to higher and higher levels of success. Regis’s course, Peer Mentoring and Support, consists of the knowledge and skills of mentoring with the field experience providing for application and practice in real world settings.
Along with keeping the curriculum current and connected to practice, Regis has identified another strategy to facilitate the implementation of SB-191.
The law states that principals may appoint a “designee” to assist in evaluating teachers. We are developing a certificate in Educational Leadership that will consist of four courses or 12-credit hours specifically targeted in preparing designees. Furthermore, the certificate credit hours can be applied toward the principal licensure program for those wanting obtain a principal license or a Master’s plus principal license endorsement.
However, it isn’t easy to go to school when you are working full-time.
I talk with prospective principal licensure candidates and Human Resource Directors about the variety of ways Regis can build a doable program. Courses can be taken face-to-face, blended (partially online and partially face-to-face) or solely online. There are also “Summer Intensives” where students can take courses during the summer break. The intensives are structured in a 2 by 2 format; two courses offered over one two-week session with two sessions scheduled during the summer. With these intensives, students can take up to four courses over the summer.
When designing their program, students can organize their own coursework or a group of students can organize themselves into a cadre. In setting up their own programs, students work with an advisor and use the established course rotation to determine when and in what format they will take their courses. If there are a group of students who would like to follow a specific course sequence, they can work with an advisor to develop a common schedule for all of them.
It gives me great satisfaction as the ELIC Program Coordinator to know that with all these elements in place, Regis prepares excellent and well-qualified school principals.
Dr. Kay Uchiyama is an assistant professor in the School of Education and Counseling at Regis University and is located at the Colorado Springs Campus. She earned a degree in Instruction and Curriculum from the University of Colorado at Boulder focusing on classroom assessment along with research on teaching and learning to teach. She was an assistant professor at Colorado State University and a professor at Arapahoe Community College prior to coming to Regis. Dr. Uchiyama currently coordinates that Educational Leadership for Innovation and Change Program in Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada. She also coordinates the M.ED with licensure program in Colorado Springs.