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University of Iowa News Release

April 8, 2005

UI Education Administration Program Reaccredited For Five Years

A University of Iowa College of Education program that prepares future pre-K-12 school principals for state licensure has been reaccredited for five years by a national review committee appointed by the Iowa State Board of Education.

Members of the review panel were Hunter Moorman, chair and director of the Education Policy Fellowship Program and senior associate for leadership programs at the non-profit Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, D.C.; Gail Schneider, professor of educational administration and chair of the Department of Administration Leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Lonnie Wagstaff, the M.K. Hage Centennial Professor Emeritus, at the University of Texas at Austin; and Richard Wallace Jr., superintendent emeritus of the Pittsburgh Public Schools and current clinical professor of educational administration at the University of Pittsburgh.

"Beyond meeting the standard established by the State Board mandate, we believe the review process results in a program that is more closely aligned to the needs of contemporary school leaders," said Marcus Haack, Ed.D., a clinical associate professor in the Educational Administration program.

"As a result of the review process, the Educational Administration preparation program in the College of Education has made substantive changes in its approach to preparing future school principals," Haack added. "The program has moved from a preparation program that was mostly theoretical to one that is nearly evenly balanced between classroom theory and field, or clinical, experiences. This change results in a program that allows students to more directly experience life in the 'real world' of the principalship."

The Education Administration program, which is part of the UI College of Education's Department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, offers three graduate degrees -- master of arts, specialist and doctor of philosophy -- as well as licensure for pre-K-12 principals, superintendents and special education administrators.

Because many of the students seeking these degrees are practicing teachers and others currently in education, the program is tailored for working professionals. Classes are offered in the evenings during the regular academic year and during the six-week summer session so that students can complete their degrees and licensure while working.

Currently about 35 master's/licensure-level students are enrolled in the program. Students may either earn a master's degree in educational leadership, which qualifies them to apply for a principal's license from the State Board of Educational Examiners, or a student with a master's degree in another educational area may complete a licensure program that also qualifies him or her to apply for a principal's license.

While the Education Administration program fared well in the review process, the evaluation provided the college with an opportunity to make some needed changes to its principal preparation program, Haack said. Previously, for instance, students completed three semester hours of field work at either the elementary or secondary level, based on their desire to serve as an elementary or secondary (middle school or high school) principal. Students in the new program are required to complete a total of nine semester hours of clinical work, which includes three semester hours in each of the areas of elementary principalship, secondary principalship, and special education supervision.

Additionally, certain clinical experiences are embedded in course work throughout the program.

"In other words," Haack said, "a prospective principal doesn't wait until the end of the program to experience clinical work in the field. He or she has opportunities throughout the program to meet, and work with principals currently practicing in area schools."

Another unique aspect of the program that emerged as part of the review process is that of mentor relationships with students. A group of principals from schools of various sizes in eastern Iowa has gone through an orientation that qualifies them to serve as mentors for students currently in the program. These principals, selected as outstanding practitioners by their peers, have agreed to work with program faculty in making determinations about program admissions, helping shape clinical experiences for individual students based on their backgrounds and their unique needs, and recommendations regarding program completion. These mentor principals also meet periodically with their assigned students to build a professional relationship that helps students gain greater insight and understanding of the life of the school principal.

The UI program already aligns itself with six "Iowa Standards for School Leaders" set out by the School Administrators of Iowa. The standards include benchmarks for knowledge (based on classroom instruction), performance (based on clinical experiences) and disposition (based on periodic reviews of a student's progress in the program and an exit process when a student completes the program).

"The program will continue to evolve over the next five years in order to respond more effectively and efficiently to the ever-changing nature of school leadership," Haack said. "It is our desire to be on the cutting edge of preparing tomorrow's school principals by exposing our students to the very latest leadership theories and providing them with the best real life clinical experiences possible."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007, stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu.