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Backward Mapping Project 2008: Superintendents’ Opinions of an Effective Preparation Program Dr. Robert Perry, Dr. Mick Arnold, Dr. Pam Hedgpeth, & Dr. Kristy Alexander
Missouri Professors of Education Administration (MPEA) Project Participants selected for the study were: n n acting superintendents in Missouri leaders of schools earning the designation as a district of Distinction in Performance by Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for three consecutive years
Missouri Professors of Education Administration (MPEA) Project Additional Requirements: n Superintendent must be employed one year prior to the first year of the district’s designation of distinction n Superintendent must be employed during all three years of designation
Missouri Professors of Education Administration (MPEA) Project n n n Efforts were made to include all qualifying superintendents Wide representation of school districts (rural, suburban, small, large, and various grade configurations) Of the twenty-six superintendents selected, eighteen participated (14 male, 4 female)
MPEA Study Format n n Once consent forms had been secured, face-toface interviews of each superintendent were conducted Members of MEPA volunteered to conduct the interviews during the Spring of 2008
MPEA Study Format Eighteen Open-Ended Questions Focused On ISLLC Standards including: n n n Vision Culture Management Collaboration Ethics Political, Social Economic, and Legal Issues
MPEA Study Format Participants were also asked to respond to the following two additional questions… 1) 2) What are your five most important responsibilities as superintendent? What are the greatest obstacles you face as a superintendent?
Study Conclusions The research appears to indicate the following conclusions: There is a disparity in the coursework and topics covered in educational preparation programs taken by veteran superintendents
Study Conclusions 2. Superintendents take initiative to be involved in professional development opportunities or network with other superintendents when they perceive a gap in their own knowledge and skills on pertinent topics (such as school safety)
Study Conclusions 3. Creating and implementing a shared vision was identified as the most important role of the superintendent, yet getting stakeholder buy-in and the establishment of a strong focus on the vision was identified as the second greatest obstacle faced by superintendents.
Study Conclusions 4. Change was considered the third most difficult obstacle for superintendents and being a change agent was perceived as their second most important role, yet interview data indicated superintendents had a limited knowledge in how to change the true culture of a school district.
Study Conclusions 5. An interesting observation was that working with the board of education was fifth in the importance of items a superintendent needed to do, but was number one in obstacles.
Implications n n Several superintendents received training prior to the development of the ISSLC Standards (1996) Preparation programs at that time did not align curriculum/programming with standards
Implications n Veteran superintendents seek information when they feel a gap in their skills and knowledge
Implications n Superintendents identified the importance of their role in creating a shared vision and positive culture, but many indicated a lack of knowledge in facilitating these processes
Future Actions n n n Most Missouri university programs have aligned their Education Administration Programs with the ISLLC Standards, yet ongoing criticism indicates the need for professors to stay current on new trends in schools Collaboration efforts with college professors and practitioners must be an on-going process Formalizing collaboration procedures and processes with school district in each institution and sharing findings statewide would inform current programs
Future Actions n To support the needs of veteran superintendents regarding the development and implementation of a strong vision, creating a positive culture, and facilitating change…it is recommended that regional and statewide pd opportunities be developed and provided for these acting superintendents
Future Actions n To expand on the pd recommendation it would further be suggested these learning opportunities be integrated with effective strategic planning and utilization of e. Pegs.
Future Actions The researchers finally suggest that the study be expanded to add depth and breadth by including: n n More interviews with successful superintendents Additional interviews with superintendents identified as needing improvement by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Final Thoughts “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is just passing the time. Vision with action can change the world. ” Author Unknown