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  • What are the perceptions of the school district – university partners who collaborated in the design of the new leadership preparation program?
  • What are the perceptions of the partner instructors of the first year of the leadership preparation program?
  • What are the perceptions of the school district – university partners who participate as an advisory body to the educational leadership program?

Following a review of the literature on exemplary programs, we provide an overview of the program partnerships. We then examine the perceptions of the parties involved in the classroom experience and document findings from interviews of the educational leadership professors and the practitioner partners who co-taught the courses. Finally, we will present the perceptions of members of the Educational Leadership Steering Committee, a group of representatives from districts who have partnered with the university, serving as an advisory body to the program.

Review of the literature

Conceptual framework

This study is framed in the model of exemplary leadership preparation programs as documented in the work of Darling-Hammond, LaPointe, Meyerson, Orr and Cohen (2007). Studies of leadership preparation programs (Darling-Hammond, et al., 2007; Devita, Colvin, Darling-Hammond,&Haycock, 2007; Dilworth&Thomas, 2001) have consistently found similar components across exemplary leadership preparation programs. These components, if implemented with fidelity, led to outcomes which included principals who felt they were better prepared to lead instruction and garner support from all stakeholderss, were more positive about the work of a principal, had a greater intent to stay in the field of administration, and were better able to develop a school vision. Moreover, schools with principals who focused on instructional leadership found increased student achievement and greater job satisfaction in their teachers (Darling-Hammond, et al., 2007).

This study focused on two of the components of exemplary leadership programs; that is, university-school district partnerships and instruction from both university professors and school practitioners.

University-school district partnerships

Goodlad (1993) in his early work with professional development schools and partnerships for teaching training, noted that school systems and universities profit from symbiotic relationships; that is, the “intimate living together of two dissimilar organisms in a mutually beneficial relationship” (p. 29). Gutierrez, Field, Simmons, and Basile (2007) refer to these benefits as “intellectual capital” (p.334). This resource is the expertise brought to the table by the core people in the partnership. Gutierrez, et al. call this the “heart of actualizing the potential of the partner school model” (p. 335).

Strong partnerships between the university and the school districts increase the likelihood of quality candidates for the university, opportunities for valuable internship experiences, and active, on-going conversations on the best way to marry research and practice (Darling-Hammond et al., 2007; Devita et al., 2007; Dilworth&Thomas, 2001; Schmidt-Davis et al., 2009). Darling-Hammond et al. found that university-school district collaboration at the beginning of leadership preparation ensured that support would continue to be provided once graduates became principals.

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Source:  OpenStax, Education leadership review, volume 12, number 1 (april 2011). OpenStax CNX. Mar 26, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11285/1.2
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