« PreviousContinue »
The Department attempts to exercise leadership in education in this State. Its activities are limited, however, by a small staff and legislative appropriation.
The function of the State Department of Education in Tennessee under existing statutes and authorizations with respect to the study and implementation of educational problems is that of a service agency. The most effective work of the department is in aiding and supervising local school administrators, supervisors, principals and teachers with their educational problems.
Another recognized responsibility of the State Department of Education is to provide leadership and direction in administrative and instructional improvement, in schoolhouse planning, certification and other fields served by the Divisions of the Department, and to safeguard school expenditures and the welfare of the children of the State by seeing that the laws, rules and regulations of the State and the State Board of Education are faithfully kept.
The role and function of the State Department in Texas is to furnish leadership, guidance, direction, and inspiration in the study and implementation of educational problems. It has the personnel to furnish the leadership and finances to carry out the program.
The State Department under existing statutes and authorizations is the constitutional head of education in the State and so recognized. Local administrators are constantly calling on the State Department to study and advise on local problems. At the time of this writing, there are pending four district surveys and one or two high school surveys which the State Department has been asked to make. We feel that the statute is ample and proper to give the State Department necessary leadership respecting the study and implementation of educational problems.
The State Department of Education has served mainly to coordinate the technical ability available in the colleges of education with the needs of the public schools. That has been necessary also because of the limited staff provided the State Superintendent. In testing programs, curriculum, speech clinics, evaluating programs, remedial work, the schools and the technical experts have been brought into conference and cooperation through the State Department of Education.
Conclusions and Suggestions
AS IN PART I the general plan of analysis of returns in part II has been to present materials through which the State departments cooperating have described in their own words such activities and points of view as seemed to them relevant to the questions raised in the four sections of the inquiry. These statements in some cases have been summarized and certain general conclusions drawn. All have been freely sampled. Implications in the questions asked or growing out of the responses have been discussed and an effort has been made to clarify certain concepts. These discussions have been limited to those matters which seem to bear with reasonable directness upon the problems incident to the improvement of professional administrative personnel.
In this final chapter these analyses will be summarized by sections in terms of general conclusions supported by current practice, opinion, and experimentation; the present situation as revealed through analysis of responses; and finally, suggestions and implications related to possibilities in giving practical effect to the conclusions presented.
1. Standards and Qualifications for School Administration
Conclusions.-The development of standards for administration and the setting up of professional and legal qualifications for administrators are dependent upon the progressive development and acceptance by school officers, lay and professional, of a dynamic philosophy of administration. Such a philosophy emerges most surely out of cooperative policy-making and program-building activities, local and State-wide, which involve participations by all interested groups. The goal must be the development of progressively raised standards of qualifications which ultimately will guarantee that only the most competent and the most literate, professionally, culturally, and socially, shall be entrusted with leadership responsibilities in the schools. For the achievement of this goal State departments of education should exert very specific and conscious leadership.
The present situation.-It is clear from the responses made to this inquiry that among the State departments reporting there is a general awareness of the fact that through the cooperative development of policies in education a philosophy of administration inevitably takes form and tends to condition future policy and practice. In a substantial majority of the States represented professional and lay groups have been engaged in participations directed toward the development
of a philosophy of administration and resultant professional standards.1 Specific efforts have been made to set up qualifications for administrative personnel in all but one State reporting. These efforts have resulted in varying degrees of progress and achievement. It appears, however, that in relatively few States have employing boards set up and enforced requirements in excess of the legal requirements established and in no State has this been done with uniform success. two States some efforts have been directed toward helping boards of education to discharge their responsibilities in selecting administrators more carefully through the application of high standards of qualification. While more than half of the States report efforts designed to encourage objective self-appraisal of their effectiveness in practice by administrators it appears that major emphasis thus far has been given to the use of the techniques developed in the Cooperative Studies in Secondary Education. Two States report the use of techniques specifically designed to be of help to superintendents in self-appraisal of effectiveness and which invoke standards of administrative practice. Another State provides a unique opportunity for administrators to engage in evaluative studies involving the total range of educational problems and practice. Handbooks for administrators have been developed in 2 States and are in process of development in 2 others.
Suggestions and implications.—In order that proposals for leadership activities by State departments may be made effective in practice, suggestions are offered here for three courses of action which should parallel each other as parts of a continuous process.
1. Efforts should be directed through cooperative study to the progressive development and acceptance by school officials of a body of professional standards of administrative policy and practice.
These cooperations should not be confined to groups of practicing administrators but should involve all interested groups such as teacher education faculty members, graduate students in administration and education, classroom teachers, lay school officials, and other representative lay leaders. Each of these groups has a contribution to make and their participation would provide safeguards against the tendency of many administrators to view administration as a function apart and distinct from the teaching function.
These cooperations should be carried on under some definiteplan. It is clear from the returns in this inquiry that in too many cases conference and discussion techniques are used somewhat indiscrim
1 Part I, Ch. 6., p. 67.
inately as activities which in and of themselves have values whenever and wherever used. Too often there seems to be an easy assumption that inevitably any educational conference will have values and outcomes related to purposes and interests which may not appear on the agenda. And so it is said, for example, "you can't discuss administrative problems without bringing up matters of philosophy," or "inevitably our meetings and discussions deal from time to time with underlying philosophy." A body of professional standards of administrative policy and practice consistent with any defensible philosophy of administration cannot be developed through any such easygoing approach.
2. Efforts should be continuously directed toward the establishment by legal enactment of defensible minimum qualifications as a mandatory prerequisite for the employment of persons in administrative positions in the schools of the State.
A review of developments in this area, especially during the last few years, indicates that rapid progress is being made in this direction. There is still much to be done, not only with respect to the actual qualifications established quantitatively in terms of courses, degrees, and experience, but also qualitatively, with respect to procedures used to determine whether or not candidates for certification actually possess the competences, knowledges, and understandings implicit as necessary in the standards agreed upon.
It is not at all clear, or well established, that specific course requirements provide even reasonable assurance that individuals meeting these requirements have benefited from them and are therefore competent or literate, professionally. The question of whether or not requirements which are set up in terms of very specific subject-matter areas or courses place a compulsion upon schools of education to provide these preparations and thus tend to freeze into the professional education pattern certain prescribed emphases and content is one of great significance. Surely the need for a fully cooperative approach is very clear at this point.
3. Efforts should be directed to provide assistance and counsel to lay boards in the discharge of their responsibilities for the selection of administrative personnel.
While the efforts mentioned by 2 States through institutes for school officers and consultations with State department officials are commendable and worth while, the fact remains that generally boards of education are left very largely to their own resources in dealing with personnel matters. The fact that boards of education here and there do seek help and counsel from State departments and
from schools and departments of education in the universities would suggest a readiness for assistance which to date has not been fully capitalized. The point of the whole matter is that any effort to raise and invoke standards for administrative personnel breaks down if, at the point of employment and continuance in office, other and lower standards are applied. It would seem, therefore, that special efforts should be made to improve practice by employing boards. Activities suggested previously in this connection are summarized here as worthy of trial. (See p. 74, 95, and 96.)
The establishment of regional or State service groups representative of State, county, and city administrators, schools of education and lay school officials for the express purpose of making consultation and other services available to school boards in personnel matters.
These services might include counsel in setting up criteria for the selection of administrative personnel. They might also include assistance and counsel in the development and use of more objective measures of professional competence, cultural literacy, and personality factors.
In States where school board associations are strong and active such services might well be cleared through a placement service operated by the association to serve member boards. The service group described above would in such cases be set up in an advisory relationship to the association agency. The purpose of all this is not to select personnel for local boards but to assist boards in the development of sound selection practices.
II. In-Service Education of Administrative Personnel Conclusions.-State departments of education should assume leadership in the development of activities which are rather specifically and consciously directed to provide opportunities and situations which contribute to the growth of administrative personnel. These activities should be conceived and directed to the over-all purpose of bringing together theory and practice in the field. Significant growth takes place as the result of constant understanding of, and adaptation to, the changing and enlarging body of knowledge and techniques involved in the profession of education. In order that these activities may contribute most effectively to professional growth it is important that imposition of programs be avoided, that individual participants join in initiating and planning the conditions and situations that inspire growth, and that they continue to participate in all of its processes. Professional growth should be conceived as an on-going process that has no distinct parts. Coordination with more formal programs carried on by teacher-education institutions should be affected so that distinctions between oncampus and off-campus activities may be minimized. Social and group motivations and drives should be developed through stimulations which will create the kind of environment of influence and activity in which administrators and teachers can participate in