Principal Effectiveness in Traditional and Non-Traditional Principal Certification Programs
This study was designed to examine the experiences of school administrators in both traditional and alternative administrator preparation programs to determine if a specific program style prepares administrators better for the role of school principal. The study utilized survey and semi-structured interview methods to identify and interview eight current and former school principals to elicit their in-depth perceptions on the overall quality and effectiveness of the principal certification preparation program they had completed in preparation for the principalship. Collective interviews and interview data analyses completed during the investigation facilitated the generation of three data-informed “emerging themes” reported as qualitative results of the study. These three emerging themes, supported by and reflecting the collective sets of interviewee perspectives accumulated during qualitative interviews, enabled the researcher to derive some data-informed insights regarding school leaders’ perspectives regarding the perceived quality and effectiveness of traditional and non-traditional principal certification preparation programs. Findings and conclusions derived from the three emerging themes highlighted study respondents’ views regarding: 1) the importance of providing multiple opportunities during preparation programs for aspiring principals to build professional learning and support networks with cohort members, professors, and school leaders; 2) the relevance of hands-on, interactive, and job-related structured internships; and 3) the perceived need for the provision of in-depth preparation program experiences centered on the multiple, real-world process development aspects of the school principal role. Study respondents’ views on the perceived importance of these program dimensions and emphases consistently applied to both traditional and non-traditional programs. Finally, a School Principal Leadership Process Development Model was developed to serve as an initial empirically informed means to conceptually frame the study’s collective findings and conclusions highlighting the overarching perceived need for school principal preparation programs to develop effective school leadership processes and the connections needed to develop those processes to be able to prepare aspiring principals for the constantly changing environment of the school principalship.