Hoping to fill in the expected and current gaps retirement has created in the ranks of principals, Houston Independent School District is offering a training program to graduate its own replacements.
Aspiring principals going back to class
HISD academy aims to fill gap left as baby boomers head to retirement
— reported by the Houston Chronicle
Several colleges, including the University of Houston, offer principal certification programs, but HISD officials say their program is different. The district’s tuition, about $4,900, falls in line with that of some other nearby programs.
In HISD, principals have broad powers. They manage multimillion-dollar budgets, hire their staffs and oversee course offerings. They also must ensure students pass state tests, stay out of trouble and don’t drop out.
And they must work fast. Houston principals are on one-year contracts, which means they could be reassigned, demoted or fired if they don’t meet Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra’s admittedly high expectations. The school board agreed last year to remove a principal automatically from a school deemed “academically unacceptable” by the state for two consecutive years.
Research shows principals have “a huge impact” on teacher morale and indirectly affect student achievement, said Karen Seashore Lewis, a professor at the University of Minnesota who has studied principal leadership.
Over the next two years, the trainees will attend class several times a month, several hours a night. They’ll take 11 courses, focusing on leadership, diversity, school law, community relations, data analysis and finance. They’ll get grades like at any other school, and they’ll intern under a successful administrator. In the end they’ll have to pass the mandatory state exam.