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CREATE Week: Paula Egelson on International Perspectives on School Leadership Preparation, Evaluation Standards, and Role as Principal

Hi I am Paula Egelson, researcher at the Southern Regional Education Board and member of the Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching Effectiveness’s (CREATE) Board of Directors. CREATE’s membership is international in scope and many CREATE members do research in countries outside the United States (US). Since some of our work centers on school leaders, a team of CREATE directors (Sterritt, Grant, Fischetti, Klinger and Egelson, 2015) believed it would be helpful to develop a white paper on school leadership internationally from principal preparation, standards, principal evaluation, and manager/leader perspectives. Australia, Canada, China, and the US were targeted.

Countries’ government, research, and their culture deeply impact educational policy and implementation. Of the four countries selected, Australia, Canada and the US are industrialized nations with highly developed educational systems. While having a long history, China is now emerging as an industrial power. China has made sweeping changes to its education system by moving to more of a westernized approach.

Not surprisingly, Canada and China are on opposite ends of the spectrum regarding school leadership. Canada is very decentralized in its approach to education and views its school leaders as well-trained, dedicated professionals. There is no single national Canadian context for principal preparation and evaluation; it varies by province. The standards for school leaders are not regulatory, but are seen like professional development. In contrast, China is highly regulated and centralized. However, the principal is seen as an instructional leader in China; this is true of all the countries studied.

There are some commonalities on the perspectives between Australia and the United States. In general, Australia is more highly centralized than the US. In both countries, mostly universities conduct the training of principals. Regarding leadership standards, Australia’s are nationally developed whereas in the US has both national and state leadership standards. Surprisingly, the United States principals are evaluated summatively while in Australia they are evaluated formatively. Australia appears to be at a crossroads with principal training and evaluation. Although there is some evidence of high stakes accountability (like value-added measures), the purity of the current standards and process remain formative in nature and support principal self-reflection, the management of self, and professional learning.

Lessons Learned:  

  • While there are communalities in the roles and expectations for principals, the standards for training and evaluating school leadership vary across cultures and systems.
  • There is a need to explore how successful systems work well even when they are at opposite ends of important dimensions like the centrality of the standards and regulations.

Rad Resource: The CREATE White Paper on Standards for Educational Leadership found at this link: CREATE Leadership White Paper

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching (CREATE) week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members of CREATE. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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