Instructional Leadership Programs In Alabama: Results Of A .

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Instructional Leadership Programs in Alabama:Results of a Survey of Alabama Association of Professors ofEducational LeadershipD. Keith GurleyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBrenda MendiolaUniversity of AlabamaAbstractDuring a collegial conversation between faculty members who attended the annual fallconference of the Alabama Association of Professors of Educational Leadership, facultymembers posed many questions about how the Instructional Leadership programs for which theyworked compared across the state. In the winter of 2015, researchers surveyed faculty membersfrom each of the 13 universities in Alabama that offer certification programs (Class A, ClassAA) in Instructional Leadership. Survey results provide an overview of program structuresacross institutions and served to compile the answers to many of the questions posed during thefaculty discussion. Faculty respondents provided feedback regarding program structure andexpectations as well as perception data relative to program strengths and challenges. While manyfeatures of Instructional Leadership programs are similar, notably, structure and expectations ofthe residency required for the Class A certificate vary widely across institutions. Facultyperception data point to various program strengths, especially whichever delivery model (onlinev. face-to-face) their particular program has adopted. Implications for repeated surveyadministration are presented, as well as potential topics for future inquiry.Key words: educational leadership programming, preparation of educational leaders, leadershipprogram comparison, leadership program survey, university-school partnerships1

During the 2007-2008 academic year, all 13 university-based educational leadership programs inAlabama redesigned their degree programs in compliance with a directive from the AlabamaState Department of Education (ALSDE) in order to align programming to the eight, newlyadopted Alabama Standards for Instructional Leaders (ALSDE, 2016). This mandate to redesignall principal preparation programs across the state, issued by the ALSDE, was consistent withmany states across the United States during the time (Browne-Ferrigno, 2011). Such mandatedprogram redesigns frequently required institutions of higher education to establish and engage inactive partnerships with school districts in their service areas in terms of program design,development of field-based experiences for candidates, and other critical program components,in the interest of making principal preparation programs more relevant and responsive to actualconditions in the field (Gurley, Anast-May, & Lee, 2015; Kamler, Szpara, Dornisch, Goubeaud,Levine, & Brechtel, 2009; Martin, Ford, Murphy, & Muth, 1998; Martin & Papa, 2008; Smith,2003; Whitaker, King, & Vogel, 2004).Prior to the mandated redesign, many universities in Alabama offered an option foreducational leadership students to gain building-level instructional leadership (Class A)certification in Alabama either through completing a traditional master’s degree program, or bycompleting a reduced-hour (typically 18 credits) certification-only program, often referred tocolloquially as the administrative “add-on” program. These add-on programs were open toeducators who already held a master’s degree in an educational area, but who wanted to add theinstructional leadership credential to their certification.With the redesign directive, however, add-on certification programs in instructionalleadership across Alabama were discontinued. All Alabama students who sought Class Acertification in instructional leadership were required to earn a master’s degree. For manystudents, this resulted in earning a second master’s degree in education.On July 1, 2014, ALSDE notified universities that they again had the option ofdeveloping and offering reduced-hour programs (18-credit minimum), which would result inbuilding-level certification (Class A) in instructional leadership. Like the redesigned master’sprograms, however, these new, reduced-hour option (RHO) programs, were still required toaddress all eight of the Alabama Standards for Instructional Leaders (ALSDE, 2016) in terms ofcourse content and assessment of candidate proficiency. While a few universities developed suchreduced-hour certification options nearly over night, others worked over the 2014-2015timeframe to redesign and rearrange courses and program assessments in order to address thisnew option and to gain ALSDE approval.Naturally, many changes have come about in educational leadership programmingthroughout the state in response to this new, reduced-hour option for certification. AlabamaAssociation of Professors of Educational Leadership (AAPEL) faculty members and theircolleagues in their respective universities have performed program-wide redesign in an effort tooffer this new reduced-hour certification option to potential students. Courses were realigned andrearranged, syllabi rewritten, assessments reworked; educational leadership programs throughoutthe state changed substantially for virtually all member institutions.Purpose of the StudyDuring the Fall 2015 Conference of AAPEL, faculty from nearly all 13 educational leadershipprograms was present in a leadership/planning meeting. Naturally, conversation ensued whereinmembers began asking one another about the features and aspects of their new and existing2

programs. At first, the group discussed and compared various features of the new reduced-hourprogram options being developed and offered, but soon the focus broadened to include degreeprograms, as well. Consequently, questions such as, “What programs are you offering?” and“How many credits does your program require to complete the various degrees?” emerged. Itwas out of a desire to gather the answers to these questions, and to compile them in one place,that the authors of this report developed and distributed a survey in the months following thismeeting. This survey was administered to educational leadership a faculty memberrepresentative(s) from each of the 13 universities in Alabama that offer educational leadershipprograms. To our knowledge, no information regarding the status of educational leadershipprograms in Alabama has been compiled since the June 2010 report School Leadership ChangeEmerging in Alabama: Results of the Governor's Congress on School Leadership conducted bythe Southern Regional Education Board.Surveys were distributed during the fall 2015 term, and were completed by January 2016.The results from this survey are reported in this document and offer a sort of “State of the State”report regarding what is happening in instructional leadership programs across Alabama. In thisreport, survey results are presented in sections per program (e.g., master’s, RHO certification,educational specialist). Themes resulting from the analysis of open-ended question responsesfrom faculty respondents are included in a later section of the report. We begin by presenting thenames of all participating institutions.Participating InstitutionsDuring the fall of 2015, Alabama had 13 university-based, graduate programs offering mastersand educational specialist degree programs, as well as the reduced-hour certification-onlyprogram. (Six of these 13 institutions also offer advanced, doctoral degree programs, but thefocus of the survey, and of this report, is on educational leadership certification programs only.)Faculty from the 13 institutions are all represented in AAPEL and at least one facultyrepresentative from each of the institutions participated by completing the survey. Institutionnames are listed in Table 1.Table 1.Alabama Association of Professors of Educational Leadership Member InstitutionsAlabama Agricultural & Mechanical UniversityaAlabama State UniversityacAuburn UniversitycAuburn University of MontgomeryJacksonville State UniversitySamford UniversitybcTroy University (Dothan and Phenix City campuses)3

University of AlabamacUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamcUniversity of MontevalloUniversity of North AlabamaUniversity of South AlabamacUniversity of West AlabamaNote. aInstitution also member of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. bPrivateinstitution. cDoctoral degree granting institution.MethodologyThe authors developed the survey to include 71 questions. Survey questions consisted of amixture of formats including short-answer, multiple choice, and matrix type questions inquiringabout program such features as number and type of faculty, credit hour requirements, length oftime to completion, structure of the program residency. The final six survey items were openended questions designed to explore respondent perceptions of strengths and challenges of theirspecific educational leadership programs. Survey questions were entered into Qualtrics surveysoftware website (see www.qualtrics.com) which provided a link to a dedicated survey website.Approximately 10 days prior to survey distribution, the authors sent an email to allindividual AAPEL faculty members, announcing the upcoming distribution of the survey andrequesting their participation. The email explained that only a single response was required fromeach participating institution, and that the survey might be completed either by a singledesignated faculty member representative, or by a group of faculty members in collaboration.The survey link was distributed in mid-November, 2015. After three weeks, authors sentreminder emails to institutions that had not completed. This reminder email was repeated duringthe first week of January to the remaining few institutions who had not yet responded. Allinstitutions (100%) completed the survey by mid-January, 2016. Of the 13 respondinginstitutions, nine surveys were completed by a program chair or coordinator, three werecompleted by an individual faculty member, and one survey was completed collaboratively. TheInstitutional Review Board at both authors' institutions approved the survey, as well as theprocess of survey distribution.ResultsResults of the survey are summarized below. The survey results are reported by degree/programtype (i.e., master’s, reduced-hour option, and educational specialist). Faculty perceptionsregarding the strengths and weaknesses of the identified programs follow. It is important to notethat, in some cases, the total number of programs appears to be reported as 14, rather than 13.This is due to the fact that one institution hosts programs on two separate campuses. In general,we tried to report this as a single program. In some cases, however, it will be reported as a 14thprogram.4

Faculty Number and TypePrograms and institutions vary in size, and thus, retain various numbers and types of educationalleadership faculty. Table 2 presents information across institutions regarding the number andtypes of educational leadership faculty employed.Master’s Degree ProgramsThere are 13 institutions that host educational leadership programs that award a master’s degreeupon program completion. Of these 13, seven programs are delivered face-to-face, five programsare offered in a blended format where some classes are face-to-face, and some meet online.Three educational leadership master’s programs inTable 2.Institutions Reporting Number and Type of Faculty MembersNumber of Faculty Membersper InstitutionType of Faculty Member012345 6 62531251143101 11Full-Time Tenure TrackFull-Time Non-Tenure TrackPart-Time/Adjunct Facultya3Note. aTotal of 14 institutions reported as one university hosts educational leadership programson two separate campuses.Alabama are offered 100% online. In the fall of 2015, approximately 500 students in Alabamawere enrolled in master’s degree programs in educational leadership, with programs ranging insize from 8 to 85. Students in master’s degree programs are required to complete an average of33 credit hours, and are admitted on a rolling basis (i.e., each semester) at nine of the 13universities, with the remaining four admitting annually, following the cohort model. In order todemonstrate competency in the eight Alabama Standards for Instructional Leaders (ALSDE,2016), 11 universities require a comprehensive exam upon program completion, with theremaining two requiring a capstone project. Students typically complete the master’s degreeprograms in four to five semesters, though at two universities, six semesters are required.The greatest discrepancies in the data emerged when we examined what faculty membersreported regarding their master’s students completing the required 10-day residency. Accordingto the Alabama Administrative Code (Alabama State Board of Education, 2015), the completionof a 10-day residency in educational leadership is required by the ALSDE for any student who5

Residency Optionsapplies for Class A (building-level) certification in instructional leadership. When first written,the administrative code required that all certification candidates complete these 10 daysconsecutively. Over the years, however, this requirement has been relaxed somewhat through theASLDE, and specifically through the state superintendent’s office. In 2010, then StateSuperintendent of Education Joseph B. Morton distributed a memo relaxing the consecutiveaspects of the 10-day residency, stating specifically that universities and students’ schooldistricts may work cooperatively to create residency experiences which are non-consecutive, andin fact, may be completed during the summer months when the costs of such a residencyexperience would be much less (J. Morton, personal communication, September 17, 2010). Theresidency requirements were further relaxed in September of 2015 with changes to the AlabamaAdministrative Code that allows for "uninterrupted service in an active school with studentspresent for the equivalent of ten full days" (p. 3-3-202).Results of the AAPEL survey indicated that the 10-day residency in instructionalleadership across 13 institutions represents, today, several approaches. Three institutions haveretained the 10-consecutive-days model within either the fall or spring semester. Similarly, threeinstitutions require the residency be completed during either the fall or spring semester, but donot require the days be consecutive. Three institutions require that the 10 days be completed atsome time during the summer term. And three institutions allow the 10 days to be completed inany combination, during any school term, so that all 10 days are completed by the end of theprogram. One institution reported that their model was different or “other" than those modelsdescribed above. Due to constraints in survey structure and administration, however, a fullerexplanation of this “other” model was not provided. Figure 1 illustrates how the various10 consecutive days, fall or spring310 non-consecutive days, fall or spring310 consecutive days, summer3010 non-consecutive days, summer3Combination of days, any term1Other012Institutions34Figure 1. Ten-day residency requirements for master’s students are represented by a minimum offive different models.university programs reported their 10-day residency requirements for master’s degree programsin instructional leadership.6

Reduced-Hour Option (RHO) ProgramsThe AAPEL survey also asked respondents to respond to questions about the RHO (minimum 18credit hours), certification-only programs leading to Class A certification in instructionalleadership offered at their institutions. As mentioned above, the option for institutions to providea RHO certification program was reauthorized as of July 1, 2014. At the discretion of theindividual institutions, but only with the approval of ALSDE personnel, the RHO was to beoffered to students who already held a master’s degree in an instructional or instructional supportarea, who already held a Class A certificate in that instructional or support area, and who had aminimum of three years’ professional teaching experience.Results from the survey regarding the RHO programs indicated that, by fall 2015, all 13institutions have exercised this option and provide the certification program. Five institutionsdeliver an RHO program in a face-to-face format, four deliver instruction in a blended fashion,and four in an entirely online format. There were 243 students enrolled in RHO programs acrossthe state during the fall of 2015. RHO program size ranged up to 44 students, with a mean acrossinstitutions of 22 students per program. With the minimum required course credits for the RHOset by the ALSDE at 18 credits, RHO programs across the state range from 18-24 hours ofrequired coursework. Ten institutions admit students on a rolling basis, while three institutionsretain a cohort model, admitting only one time per year. Ten universities require either a writtenor oral (or both) comprehensive examination of their students at the end of the RHO program.Seven require a capstone project to demonstrate proficiency in the Alabama Standards forInstructional Leaders (ALSDE, 2016). Students at seven schools typically complete the RHOprogram in three semesters. Four schools reported that their RHO programs took four semestersto complete, while a single institution reported that their RHO program typically took fivesemesters to complete.Information reported regarding the 10-day residency requirements present in the RHOprograms was even more discrepant than in the master’s degree programs. Three universitiesrequire 10 consecutive days during the fall or spring term, two require 10 non-consecutive daysduring the fall or spring. Two institutions require that 10 consecutive days be completed duringthe summer term, while three others allow any combination of 10 days of residency becompleted across any term. Similar to the master’s degree programs, other models that were notdescribed by the survey are in operation in three of the institutions. Figure 2 provides a visualrepresentation of these data.7

3Residency Options10 consecutive days, fall or spring10 non-consecutive days, fall or spring210 consecutive days, summer2Combination of days, any term3Other3012Institutions34Figure 2. Ten-day residency requirements for Reduced Hour Option students are represented bya minimum of five different models.Educational Specialist ProgramsAll 13 institutions in Alabama that offer Class A (building-level) certification programs (i.e.,master’s degree and RHO programs) also offer Class AA (district-level) certification programs.Typically, these programs are advanced degree programs that culminate in the conferring of anEducational Specialist (Ed.S.) degree upon completion. Despite the fact that guidelines for Ed.S.programs in Alabama have not changed recently, nor has a reduced-hour program option beenpresented from the ALSDE for Class AA certification, questions about Ed.S. programs wereincluded in the AAPEL survey in an effort to collect and compile program information about allinstructional leadership certification programs currently available.Ed.S. programs across the state enroll a total of approximately 192 students. Coursedelivery is most commonly provided in an online format, with six institutions reporting 100%online instruction. Two programs provide a face-to-face format, while one institution deliversinstruction in a blend between face-to-face and online. (Only nine of 13 institutions responded tothis survey question.)Ed.S. Programs are small, ranging in size from 2 to 33 students, with 15 students onaverage. These programs, culminating in Class AA certification, typically require 30 hours ofcourse work, though Ed.S. programs in five of the institutions require 33-36 hours to complete.Eleven institutions admit students either two or three times per year, or on a rolling basis, whiletwo institutions retain the annual cohort admission process. Nine institutions require completionof a comprehensive examination at program exit, and nine require a capstone project. Fourschools offer a typical completion timeline of fou

Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical Universitya Alabama State Universityac Auburn Universityc Auburn University of Montgomery Jacksonville State University Samford Universitybc Troy University (Dothan and Phenix City campuses) 4 University of Alabamac University of Alabama at Birminghamc University of Montevallo University of North Alabama University of South Alabamac University of West Alabama .

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