Texas Tech University

$2.1 Million in TEA Grants Bolsters College of Education's Principal Fellows Program

Robert Stein

February 19, 2019

College of Education

The funds will allow schools in seven independent school districts in Texas to develop currently employed teachers into principals through the Texas Tech Principal Fellows Program.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has awarded more than $2.1 million in grant funds to a group of school districts to partner with the Texas Tech University College of Education on an innovative principal preparation program.

The funds will allow schools in seven independent school districts (ISDs) to develop currently employed teachers into principals through the Texas Tech Principal Fellows Program – a nationally recognized, job-embedded graduate program created by faculty in the Educational Leadership program at Texas Tech.

The funding is through TEA's 2019-2020 Principal Preparation grant program, which seeks to build strong campus leaders and support internal leadership pipelines through full-time, yearlong principal residencies.

Of the seven districts, three are in the Dallas area: Duncanville, Greenville and Grand Prairie. The remaining four partners are in the South Plains region: Lubbock, Brownfield, Plainview and Springlake-Earth. In all, the grant funding will help produce 30 principals or assistant principals.

"School principals are second only to teachers in terms of the direct impact they have on our children's education," said Fernando Valle, associate professor of educational leadership at Texas Tech. "The on-the-job training experience offered through the Texas Tech Principal Fellows Program has already proven to be transformative for high-need districts that struggle to recruit and retain high-quality principals. We're pleased to continue helping partner school districts grow and develop effective leaders who understand the unique needs of – and reflect the diversity of – their communities."

Selected teachers will undergo an intensive, 15-month administrator residency at their school districts, learning from mentor principals and Texas Tech faculty coaches. The residency involves state-of-the-art video capture technology to review performances on-site.

During the residency, candidates complete a tuition-free master's degree in educational leadership online through Texas Tech and earn a principal certification – all while continuing to earn their teaching salary.

"Partnering with Texas Tech University is an integral part of our leadership pipeline," said Pat Lewis, deputy superintendent of innovation and school improvement at Grand Prairie ISD. "This grant allows us to continue providing job-embedded, intensive school leadership training with instructional coaching from the campus, district leaders and Texas Tech University College of Education faculty. The major idea is to grow the people who are responsible for growing instruction."

The Principal Fellows Program model was developed in partnership with the National Institute of Excellence in Teaching (NIET) and TEA, utilizing competency-based instruction to ensure graduates can promote effective teaching, deliver high-quality professional development and build communities across diverse school stakeholders such as parents and business leaders.

Valle and Irma Almager, an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership program, first piloted the program in 2014 at Lubbock ISD. The U.S. Department of Education later awarded Texas Tech a $7.2 million grant through its Supporting Effective Educator Development Grant Program (SEED) to expand the program in Texas, Louisiana and Indiana. The addition of state funding has allowed even greater expansion.

In all, the Principal Fellows Program has produced 48 principals. Graduates have a 100 percent job placement rate.