Page images

Chapter 4

Demonstration, Observation and Practice Experience in the Education of School Administrators

IN ITS REPORT on Standards for Superintendents of Schools the Committee on Certification of Superintendents of Schools of the American Association of School Administrators included a section on Special Education for the Superintendency Offered by Colleges and Universities. Of the 134 institutions studied and reported on in this section, 55 provided graduate training in administration. The Committee reports that among these 55 institutions "Provisions for internship or practical experience is an essential feature of only 13 They report further that "the general response to a request for information on such provision was that the majority of superintendents undertaking graduate work already had practical experience in administration or supervision before matriculation." 1

[ocr errors]

Because interest had been centered so definitely on the extent to which provisions are made for practice experience in graduate programs of education for administration it seemed desirable to include the first 2 questions which appear in this section of the present inquiry. It should be noted that of the 55 institutions included in the study referred to above, 34 are also included in the present study.

1. Do you accept previous or concurrent experience in administra

tion or supervision as adequate provision for closing the gap between theory and practice in your program for the education of school administrators?

To this question there were 29 affirmative and 29 negative responses, with 4 institutions passing the question. Six of the affirmative responses were qualified, however. Apparently refusal to accept previous or concurrent experience as adequate provision for closing the gap between theory and practice does not in all cases mean that the institution is prepared to make up the deficiency, because, of the 29 institutions responding negatively to this question, 7 reported no provisions for practical experience under guidance in response to question 2, below. On the other hand, of the 29 institutions responding affirmatively to this question there were 14, or half of them, which

1 Standards for superintendents of schools. A preliminary report of the Committee on certification of superintendents of schools. American association of school administrators. The National Education Association. Washington, D. C., The Association, 1939. p. 39.

[ocr errors]

also reported provisions for practical experiences of the kind described
in question 2 below.

In checking the 34 institutions which were included in the American
Association of School Administrators' study it appears that 18 of these
gave an affirmative answer to this question, maintaining practically
the same 50-50 distribution of the larger group.

All that can be said concerning these replies is that approximately one-half of the institutions canvassed seem to accept the principle that the gap between theory and practice in programs of education for administration is not always adequately provided for by the fact that students have had or are having experience in administrative positions. As will be shown, however, a very much smaller number of institutions have gone beyond the point of rendering lip service to the principle.

2. Does your program make provisions for the actual performance
of duties in real situations under the direction of skilled and
experienced administrators and supervisors in the field through
internships and other means?

Despite the fact that this question is phrased specifically to delimit the kind of provisions referred to, a number of institutions interpreted the question broadly, as shown by the following qualifying statements attached to affirmative responses:

To a very slight degree in one of our laboratory schools-In part-On under-
graduate level for teachers—In the sense that they are in-service while taking
graduate work-There is such a provision for Ed. D. candidates but it has
never been implemented-Only the beginnings of an apprentice teacher

Altogether there were 33 affirmative replies made to this question. It is interesting to note that 9 institutions replying negatively to this question also indicated by a negative reply to question 1, that they do not accept previous or concurrent experience as adequate provision for closing the gap between theory and practice. It would be interesting to know how these institutions do provide for practical applications.

On the basis of the 25 descriptive statements actually filed with returns on this question, 13 institutions reporting apparently provide varied opportunities for the kind of experience referred to in the question. Altogether the returns in this study seem to substantiate essentially the statement in the AASA report that "provisions for internship or practical experience is an essential feature of only 13" 2 institutions; this despite the fact that the present inquiry included 26 institutions not included in the AASA study.

An analysis of the descriptive statements filed indicates that arrangements have been made in seven institutions for internships.

2 Ibid.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

In two of these institutions the term "apprenticeship" is used. One institution offers what may be an interesting form of rationalization to explain why no such plan is operative. The reader is invited to "note that teaching experience is requisite in this State for an administrative certificate." This interesting conclusion is then reached; "if administrative internship is meant, it is, at present, legally impossible." The reasoning here apparently is that an administrative "intern" would have to qualify for an administrative certificate "in this State." The question of whether or not an "intern" or "apprentice" would have to be legally qualified in order to operate may of course have been raised and ruled upon "in this State." Such a ruling would of course involve a very strict interpretation of the certification law since students assigned as "interns" or "apprentices" are not "employed" in the usual sense. If the State department in question is as obdurate as it appears to be, by implication, in the statement quoted, it is of course unfortunate. The question raised here is whether or not the institution reporting has really tried to work this problem out with the certifying authorities. Perhaps a form of "cadet" license would meet the problem. Surely such a situation should not be permitted to go by default if the will to do is present. For their suggestive value the following statements describing practices are cited:


We have had an agreement with the leading superintendents in the San Francisco Bay region for an intern arrangement for our students in school administration. They have taken part in various divisions and functions of school administration; for example, the Superintendent of Schools in Oakland accepted approximately 15 students a year and assigned them to various administrative duties under the supervision of the members of the regular staff. When a particular assignment was completed they were transferred to another type of work, resulting at the end of the year in a varied and rich experience in the active field of administration and supplemental to the classroom activities on the campus.

More recently we have been following the practice of conducting community surveys, using the graduate students enrolled in advanced courses in administration. This field work is supplemented by assigning individual students to work in school districts all over the northern part of the State of California. An approach is made to the head of a local school department, securing from him information relative to the problems he is facing in his district that require an intensive study. The range of these problems has included every form of school activity. Students are assigned to work on these various problems. First they prepare a detailed and extensive outline on techniques, procedures, data to be gathered, etc., under the supervision of the instructor of the course called a Practicum in Educational Administration. The study when completed is presented in final form, the original copy going to the district in which the study was made. The duplicates are filed with the instructor of the course and are eventually filed in Lange Library of the School of Education for use by future students.


We have some opportunities for field experience on the part of graduate students in school administration through the fifth-year internship teaching (partly devoted to graduate training), through certain apprenticeship work done in connection with the central administrative office of the Cincinnati Schools, through certain assignments in connection with the holders of graduate scholarships, and especially through the field experience of most of our graduate students in administration who are full time officers in public school systems.


Considerable attention has been devoted to this phase of our program. Especially noteworthy has been the development of Educational Clinics where the actual problems of the field receive the joint attention of field workers and members of the College of Education faculty and other University people. Through such clinics problems are diagnosed, tentative programs for their solution are developed, and demonstrations and experiments conducted. Also valuable in this connection has been a program which has involved selecting four demonstration counties in which cooperating programs have been established between the county and the College of Education for study of problems, attempted solutions, and demonstrations. The importance of this type of work cannot be stressed too much.

Also during the summer sessions, workshops involving all administrators and teachers of two counties have been developed on the University campus for a further study of the problems of particular field situations. We are greatly encouraged by the results thus far secured.



In order to qualify for a Master's degree in this School, every student must meet an experience requirement in the field of his major program—in this case, school administration. If a man has had previous and satisfactory experience either as a superintendent of schools or high school principal as the case may be, this requirement is disposed of on the basis of this experiIf he has not had such experience, however, he is required to undertake an apprenticeship as part of his major program here. To illustrate in the field of the high-school principalship, each inexperienced student is apprenticed to a high-school principal in the vicinity of Cambridge. He is expected to be on the job in the school one full school day each week for an entire academic year. His apprenticeship consists of serving in effect as a submaster for the principal to whom he is apprenticed.

He is given training and experience as a supervisor by being given certain responsibilities in connection with apprentices in classroom teaching.

To provide these potential administrators with a more satisfactory supervisory experience and, at the same time, to improve the supervision of the work of the practice teachers, a new procedure has been developed. The entire group of practice teachers, ordinarily about 50 in number, is divided into four groups called student-faculties. Each of these student-faculties has represented in it, to the extent that conditions make possible, all the major fields ordinarily found in a secondary-school program. With each of these student-faculties is associated one or two full-time advanced students majoring in secondary-school administration, who serve as supervising principals of their faculty. The principal is expected to observe each member of his faculty several times during the year and to hold conferences with the individual teachers and engage in any other procedures calculated to

improve the work of the practice teachers. Further, each student teacher has the privilege of going to his principal for advice, as he would under normal school conditions. Furthermore, the principals have the responsibility of providing the teachers under their direction with such special services as they may require. . . . Finally, the principals may hold studentfaculty meetings to discuss common problems arising either from work in the classroom or from instruction at the School of Education.

As should be evident from this description of the student-faculty plan, it has been designed to meet several needs, none of which presumably is peculiar to Harvard. It can add to the reality of the conditions under which the practice teachers are working. It should increase several fold the amount of attention which can be given to these practice teachers. Through it, immature teachers can be provided opportunities for informal, small-group discussions of general and specific educational problems. And it is a much needed addition to the advanced apprenticeship program of men majoring in administration and should eventually serve the same purpose for students preparing for other types of non-classroom school service. In brief, the plan is designed to fill a gap in the training programs of both classroom teachers and administrative officers and will do so by placing each group at the service of the other.

Further actual contact with work in the field is provided for students preparing for the high-school principalship by a cooperative research group which consists of the students and a limited number of high-school principals who are invited to participate. The group selects each year some problem of real consequence to all of the principals who are invited in, and the students and principals together investigate the problem and work out practicable solutions for it.

The basic reasons for organizing this group are: (1) to give men who are preparing for administrative posts training and experience in carrying on the types of research activities which administrative officers in secondary schools may properly be expected to engage in: (2) to give these men first-hand administrative experience of a general nature in addition to the research experience; (3) to give administrators in the field also an opportunity to engage in research undertakings of a practical nature and to develop further skill in this line of work; and (4) to obtain solutions for problems of immediate and practical concern in the schools represented in the group. Efforts have frequently been made to bring together theory and practice as represented in students and administrators, but these have consisted for the most part in gathering old and young "to talk things over." The plan herein described, however, actually involves the working together of students and practitioners of administration on projects of concern to both.


We maintain informal arrangements with several school systems in terms of which students take over certain types of responsibilities for limited periods of time. In only one or two cases could these be accurately described as internships. In most cases they are real jobs and the term of experience is usually a couple of years. School systems are interested in the arrangement because in general it provides them a higher quality of service than they could get if they were filling such positions on a permanent basis. We, also, utilize our own university high school and elementary school in connection with experience opportunities, employing several procedures, the most important of which is formal registration in courses offering opportunities for observation and laboratory practice in the supervision of instruction.

« PreviousContinue »