Texas Tech University

Educational Leadership Program Part of $7.2 Million Grant for Training Reform

Heidi Toth

October 8, 2015

The College of Education joins the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching in the nationwide education reform movement.

Education Building

The Educational Leadership program in Texas Tech University's College of Education will partner with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) to build a grant-funded, competency-based training model for school principals.

The $7.2 million federal Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant will impact leadership training in high-need schools in Texas, Louisiana and Indiana.

“Just as in the health profession, the ongoing professional learning of school leaders requires competency-based instruction to increase their ability to address the complex needs and changing demands of schools,” said Fernando Valle, associate professor of educational leadership at Texas Tech. “The action and application of instructional leadership is the antithesis of outdated school reform discourse. Leaders of high-need schools cannot wait for change and reforms to happen. School leaders must be proven teachers at heart who can model and provide specific skills and expertise to the teaching and learning environments.”

The need for better leadership in high-need, low-functioning schools is evidenced by research showing the quality of the principal is second only to quality of teachers in student achievement. These schools, which tend to be low-income, have difficulty attracting the type of principal they need and end up with leaders who lacs the skills or knowledge needed to support and coach teachers; find new, effective teachers; and use available data to determine where the school needs to improve.

Texas Tech is a pioneer in this area, having started a pilot program with the Lubbock Independent School District two years ago. The Principal Fellows Program model measures principals on given competencies like classroom teaching, professional development and building communities across diverse stakeholders, such as parents and community members.

By evaluating principals according to the specific skills that research into best practices has indicates makes a principal effective and providing clinical training and mentoring with veteran leaders, NIET and Texas Tech plan to train principals who are up to the challenges involved in turning around a low-performing school.

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to partner again with NIET on another competency-based initiative that will train the measurably best professionals in the field of education,” College of Education Dean Scott Ridley said. “This funding will allow us to provide the most ideal on-the-job training any principal could ask for.”

The Lubbock, Roosevelt and Slaton school districts join four other school districts in Texas and two each in Louisiana and Indiana in the initial rollout. The long-term goal is to create a model that schools nationwide can apply to train principals.

The federal SEED grant provides partnering school districts the financial support to provide the optimal job-embedded training and learning experience of principal interns with executive coaching, mentoring, and instructional leadership development.