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Introduction to Special Issue on University–District Partnerships

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TRICIA BROWNE-FERRIGNO
KAREN L. SANZO

Becoming a principal is a somewhat predictable career step for many preK–12 educators who seek greater responsibility and organizational mobility in their work (Browne-Ferrigno, 2003; Hammer & Rohr, 1993; Lashway, 2006). Aspiring school leaders typically begin their formal preservice preparation by enrolling in university-based programs with delivery formats and curricula intended to integrate theory and practice (Barnett, 2005; Coleman, Copeland, & Adams, 2001; Glasman & Glasman, 1997; Jackson & Kelley, 2002; Milstein & Krueger, 1997; Murphy & Forsyth, 1999). Desired outcomes are graduates ready to assume principalships with the necessary knowledge, dispositions, and skills to lead schools competently and effectively (Bellamy, Fulmer, Murphy, & Muth, 2007; Browne-Ferrigno & Muth, 2004, 2009; Hamilton, Ross, Steinbach, & Leithwood, 1996; Young, Crow, Murphy, & Ogawa, 2009).

University professors can provide the leadership knowledge base and assist with disposition refinement toward effective school leadership, but application of that learning and socialization of candidates into the community of administrative practice requires coordinated support from districts and practicing principals (Capasso & Daresh, 2001; Crow & Glascock, 1995; Mullen & Lick, 1999; Orr, 2006). This critically important shared responsibility for principal making was observed by a project director of a federally funded leadership development program:

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Keeping the Fire Burning: The Evolution of a University–District Collaboration to Develop Leaders for Second-Order Change

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SUSAN KORACH

ABSTRACT: A university and a large urban district began collaborating in 2003 to intensify and customize the preparation of principals. District leadership viewed the principal as the keystone to improving academic achievement for all students. The university and district reciprocally collaborated on the design and implementation of this principal preparation program. From 2005, a case study research design consisting of document review, surveys, interviews, and observations has provided ongoing data for program development and district information. The experiences of the new leaders have informed both systems of their current organizational cultures and the barriers and levers for second-order change.

In 2003, a university and a large urban school district began collaboration to systematically refocus both institutions on improving the preparation of principals. The common goal was to accelerate academic outcomes for district’s students. The district recognized the principal as the keystone to supporting and improving teacher practice. District leaders believed that to close achievement gaps, improve student achievement, and hold all adults accountable for higher expectations, they had to develop new leaders who were capable of turning around low-performing schools. At the time, the academic performance of the students in this district on the state assessment fell below the state average on every measure. The district had tried many interventions, such as curricular and program change, but these technical strategies were not having a significant impact on student achievement. It desired new leaders who would have the courage to challenge the status quo. When change causes the values of the system to be challenged, the change becomes adaptive or second order. To alter the existing pattern of stagnant and declining levels of student achievement, the district believed that it needed leaders who were capable of enacting second-order change.

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Tracing the Development of a Rural University–District Partnership: Encouraging District Voice and Challenging Assumptions Leadership

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STEVE MYRAN
KAREN L. SANZO
JENNIFER CLAYTON

ABSTRACT: The increase in accountability on both preK–12 districts and institutes of higher education has heightened the demands for partnerships between the two. Such programs have the ability to provide contextually focused, meaningful experiences by combining the theory and research knowledge of university faculty with the practical experience of district leadership (Grogan, Bredeson, Sherman, Preis, & Beaty, 2009; Preis, Grogan, Sherman, & Beaty, 2007). This article provides a Year 1 account of one such partnership between a university and a rural school district, focusing on how the project incorporated and encouraged district voice and input into leadership preparation and how the partnership challenged standing assumptions about what quality instruction is and what makes a good leader. Based on a design-based research methodology, the findings are categorized into the following themes, which emerged through a constant comparison analysis (Strauss, 1987): the application of knowledge to specific district-based issues, leadership exploration, emergent and iterative program design, and embedded leadership training.

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Measuring Change in Leadership Identity and Problem Framing

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MICHELLE D. YOUNG
ANN O’DOHERTY
MARK A. GOODEN
ELISABETH GOODNOW

ABSTRACT: In recent years, significant attention has been directed to the need for more and better-prepared educational leaders (Young, Crow, Murphy & Ogawa, 2009). While many organizations prepare school principals, evidence of program impact is sparse (Orr & Pounder, 2008; Southern Regional Education Board, 2008). The study described in this article seeks to examine the effects of purposefully designed collaborative learning experiences, as delivered through a university–district principal preparation partnership, on program participants. The article describes the first phase of the research: the examination of baseline candidate leadership perceptions, which led to the development of leadership identity and problem-framing research continua intended to assess participants’ preprogram perceptions. The continua include five stages of leadership identity development and five types of problem framing. Preliminary findings indicate striking differences among program candidates’ placement along these continua. Future stages of this research project will assess postprogram impact.

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Mandated University–District Partnerships for Principal Preparation: Professors’ Perspectives on Required Program Redesign

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TRICIA BROWNE-FERRIGNO

ABSTRACT: University–district partnerships for preparing school leaders typically have well-defined organizational structures, established practices and procedures, and parity among partners—all of which can take considerable time and effort to achieve. Thus, is it realistic to expect that university–district partnerships will emerge simply through legislative mandate? The response to this question is embedded in perspectives shared by professors of educational leadership about new Kentucky policy requiring redesign of principal preparation programs. The mandate brings a new dynamic to partnership building, a process usually constructed by mutual need and perceived advantage, and raises concerns among those who must implement it to retain program accreditation.

Higher education institutions and their local school districts share a common stake in the successful preparation of school principals. Their collaboration in delivering the array of knowledge and skills for aspiring principals preparing to lead contemporary preK–12 schools (Griffiths, Stout, & Forsyth, 1998; Hale & Moorman, 2003; Milstein, Bobroff, & Restine, 1991; Murphy, 1992; National Policy Board for Educational Administration, 1989; Young, 2010) can increase the quality of school leadership. Taking shared responsibility in the “making of a principal” (Lane, 1984, p. x), professors and school administrators ensure closer linkage of theory and practice (Grogan & Andrews, 2002; Jackson & Kelley, 2002; Orr, 2006) and enhance program graduates’ willingness to assume school leadership roles (Browne-Ferrigno & Muth, 2006, 2009; Lashway, 2006).

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