ISU school superintendent program gets unconditional approval from state board

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University's school superintendent preparation program was the only one in the state to receive unconditional approval through 2011 from the Iowa State Board of Education earlier this month. The unconditional approval for a period of four years indicates that the ISU program met or exceeded all of the board's new guidelines for such programs, which were announced last December.

"The vote of confidence in Iowa State's application to prepare superintendents will allow Iowa's best and brightest principals to engage in a creative, rigorous and innovative program driven by dilemmas of practice and supported by theory," said Troyce Fisher, a clinician in education administration for ISU's Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS). "We take our responsibility to prepare the next generation of superintendents and central office administrators very seriously and are gratified by the state board's endorsement"

Over the last several years, the Iowa Department of Education has been reviewing and revising standards for all teacher, principal and superintendent preparation programs in the state. The Iowa Council of Professors of Educational Administration -- which includes faculty from four schools presently offering superintendent preparation programs, and two others that have formed a related consortium -- has also been working for the last four years to identify qualities that make up a sound preparation program.

Iowa State revamped its two-year program to respond to the new standards. Its curriculum is now centered less around institutional management and more on student achievement. Program participants learn how to identify and analyze data on what students are taking in their schools, and whether that academic path promotes achievement in terms of measurable learning.

Additionally, all but one member of the program's faculty is either a current or former school administrator, providing experiential applications to the education theory.

"This program redesign responds to the contemporary literature and writings regarding senior level administrative preparation programs," said Jim Scharff, also a clinician in education administration for ELPS. "The ISU program has positively addressed the suggested areas for enhancement by employing practitioners as a majority of the instructional staff in concert with researchers to provide a program that combines the best of both worlds. The concept of providing learning experiences to develop leaders based on dilemmas of actual practice -- rather than individual 'courses' with abstract concepts to implement at a later date -- is unique in higher education."

Iowa State's program prepares students for a Certificate of Advanced Studies, which qualifies them to get licensed to serve as a school superintendent or a top-tier Area Education Agency administrator. Each student is also paired with two mentors -- one being the superintendent in their home school, and the other coming from another school.

Additional information on the program is available at: