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Center for the Study of Education Policy

Since 2000, Illinois has pursued an ambitious goal to strengthen principal preparation. This is a vital goal, as research has demonstrated that an effective principal is the key factor in improving schools and increasing student achievement. Through the work of numerous statewide committees and consortia, with funding support from several foundations, and with leadership at the state, regional, and institutional levels, this goal is coming to fruition in Illinois. The multiple recommendations that emerged from collaborative efforts over time prompted the passage in 2010 of Illinois Public Act 96-0903. The statute represents a substantial overhaul of leadership preparation requirements in Illinois and includes the following key elements: (1) A targeted principal endorsement, instead of a general administrative certificate; (2) Formal partnerships between principal preparation programs and school districts in the design, delivery, and continuous improvement process; (3) Selective admissions criteria for candidates in principal endorsement programs; (4) A P-12 licensure (adding Prekindergarten to the leadership training); (5) A performance-based internship with competency-based assessments; and (6) Collaborative support structure for candidates during their internship provided by both faculty supervisors and mentor principals. This paper provides substantial detail regarding the processes and mechanisms employed, the organizations involved in various collaborative efforts, and the recommendations that led to such transformative changes. Over the past several years, preparation programs have been engaged in redesign efforts based on the new licensure requirements. Currently, many are offering robust and innovative programs that provide a broad range of authentic leadership experiences for principal candidates. Illinois has been recognized nationally for the policy reforms that have led to these improvements. While still in the early phase of implementation, most recognize there is more work to be done. To that end, the newly convened Illinois School Leadership Advisory Council (ISLAC) will work to formulate a 5-year strategic plan, addressing outstanding implementation issues. The Council will work through five "study teams" to make recommendations regarding: (1) Network supports and resources; (2) Program cohesion and continuous improvement; (3) Quality assurance; (4) Regional and district partnerships, and (5) Training and support for mentors and supervisors. Once again, policy-makers, researchers, and practitioners from multiple stakeholder organizations will collaborate, as they have done so often and so well in the past, to continue the process of improving the capacity of principals to effectively lead schools. The following are appended: (1) Illinois Consortium for Education Leadership; (2) IL-SAELP Executive Committee; (3) IL-SAELP Consortium; (4) Commission on School Leader Preparation in Illinois; (5) Illinois School Leader Task Force; (6) Leadership to Integrate the Learning Continuum (LINC) Advisory Group; (7) School Leader Redesign Team Members; (8) Principal Preparation Steering Committee; (9) Illinois School Leader Advisory Council; and (10) Illinois Principal Preparation Redesign Timeline 2001-2014.

Descriptors: Principals, Administrator Education, Educational Change, State Legislation, Educational Legislation, Educational Cooperation, State Regulation, Educational Innovation, Educational Development, Program Design, Influences, Advisory Committees, Strategic Planning

Center for the Study of Education Policy. Department of Educational Administration and Foundations, College of Education, Illinois State University, 320 DeGarmo Hall, Campus Box 5900, Normal, IL 61790-5900. Tel: 309-438-2399; Fax: 309-438-8683; e-mail: edpolicyctr[at]; Web site:

Autor: Baron, Debra; Haller, Alicia


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