Quality Leadership Matters Blog


UCEA Reflects Best Research on High Quality Principal Preparation

January 25th, 2017 by



UCEA Program Design & Practice Reflects the Best Research on High Quality Principal Preparation

Quality matters in school leadership preparation. We should recognize, support and learn from those institutions that are leading the field by using data and a culture of continuous improvement to ensure research-informed best practices are at the heart of their preparation of a new generation of school leaders.”                                      ~ Dr. Michelle Young, UCEA Executive Director

The University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), a leading professional organization of higher education institutions focused on advancing the preparation and practice of leaders for the benefit of all children and schools, released program evaluation data that distinguishes its membership from the broader field of educational leadership preparation providers.

Deeper Look


A new report, A Deeper Look: INSPIRE Data Demonstrates Quality in Educational Leadership Preparation, synthesizes data drawn from a valid and reliable program evaluation survey – the INSPIRE Preparation Program Survey. The primary goal of the INSPIRE Surveys is to provide a source of data for program faculty to critically evaluate their program in order to engage in productive changes for improvement, accreditation, and stakeholder support.

Data was submitted from 113 different college-based preparation programs. The analysis reveals that UCEA programs incorporate program design elements and practices that reflect research evidence for high quality principal preparation including:          

  • Alignment to Professional Standards: All UCEA member institutions align their program to national or state standards, and many align to more than one set of standards.
  • Partnerships with Districts: The majority of UCEA member institutions engage in university-district partnerships, particularly including district partners in the selection and recruitment of candidates and as course instructors.
  • Mentoring for Candidates and Novice Leaders: 83% of UCEA member institutions offer candidates the support of mentors who have evidence demonstrating their success as an educational leader.
  • Clinical Experience in Schools with Diverse Student Populations: UCEA membership requires a clinical or “fieldwork” component and 96% of members design internships that offer the opportunity to work with diverse student populations.
  • Accessible Program Scheduling: 80% of UCEA member institutions offer evening courses to accommodate candidates with full-time work in a K-12 setting and many offer courses at a district location for convenience.
  • Course Instruction Provided by Highly Qualified Faculty: Full-time faculty lead the majority of program courses for UCEA member institutions and 85% use practitioners to a great or good extent in fieldwork supervision.
  • Multiple Assessment Practices: A strong majority of UCEA member institutions provide formative feedback and assessment from a variety of sources including problem-based learning activities, field-based assignments & oral presentations.
  • Career Support: UCEA member institutions offer a variety of resources for graduates including interviewing assistance, job counseling, job referrals, networking opportunities, and continued mentoring for novice principals.

It is imperative to have well-prepared educational leaders who understand teaching and learning; who are able to support their school staff, student bodies, and school communities; and who are willing to question structures and norms in their efforts to meet the needs of those they lead. Data in A Deeper Look contradicts many critiques of school leadership preparation and emphasizes the inaccuracy of lumping all leadership preparation programs together regardless of quality.

Dr. April Peters-Hawkins, UCEA President and Ed.D. Program Director at the University of Houston celebrated the report’s data, “UCEA members are united by a strong ethos of continuous improvement even as many members are already regarded by the field as high-quality. I am gratified to see that ethos reflected in verifiable data. “

A Deeper Look advances the national conversation about educational leadership preparation by offering unique and reliable data. Access the full report and data here.

About the INSPIRE Program Evaluation Survey Suite

This INSPIRE Program Evaluation Survey Suite is intended to aid educational leadership preparation programs in program accountability (e.g. program reviews and accreditation) and program improvement efforts. Additionally, cross program data from the suite of surveys may be used to learn more about effective leadership preparation program features and strategies. The INSPIRE Suite currently consists of four surveys, including 1) Preparation Program Features Survey (INSPIRE­‐PP): a descriptive survey of the preparation program’s key features; 2) Graduate Survey (INSPIRE­‐G): a survey of recent program graduates focusing on their perceptions of program quality and their own learning outcomes; 3) Leaders in Practice Survey (INSPIRE­‐LP): a survey of graduates who are school leaders concerning their leadership behaviors; 4) INSPIRE 360º Survey

(INSPIRE­‐360): a 360 degree survey of school leaders’ subordinates (teachers) and supervisor (s) concerning the leader’s effectiveness in shaping healthy and productive school conditions known to enhance student learning outcomes.

To learn more about the INSPIRE Program Evaluation Survey Suite click here.

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