Program Improvement Work


As the pressure to improve teaching and accelerate learning increases, the importance of hiring, developing and retaining highly qualified school leaders has never been greater. Research suggests that successful school leaders influence student achievement in several important ways, most powerfully through their influence on staff to promote improved teaching practices and their organizations, in their commitment to learning and growth. With these priorities in mind, it is essential that leadership preparation programs provide leaders with the requisite knowledge and skills essential to quality leadership practice.

UCEA has structures, reach, and experience connecting research and practice in leadership preparation and institutional improvement.

A Deeper Look- INSPIRE Data Demonstrates Quality in Educational Leadership Preparation

Deeper LookFor some time, policy-makers and education constituents have sought greater evidence of educator preparation quality and outcomes. In response to the calls for valid and reliable data on both program features and short-term and long-term outcomes, UCEA collaborated with the INSPIRE Leadership Collaborative to build a knowledge base on leadership preparation through the use of the INSPIRE Leadership Survey Suite. This report analyzes and synthesizes data drawn from UCEA institutions that participated in the INSPIRE Preparation Program Survey. It offers valid and relevant evidence that contributes to the broad, national conversation pertaining to current educational leadership preparation programming. The evidence reflects UCEA’s explicit dedication for continuous improvement, even as many UCEA programs already are regarded by the field as high-quality.

The analysis reveals that UCEA programs have incorporated program design elements and practices that reflect research evidence for high quality preparation including:             

  • Alignment to Professional Standards
  • Partnerships with Districts
  • Mentoring for Candidates and Novice Leaders
  • Clinical Experience in Schools with Diverse Student Populations
  • Accessible Program Scheduling
  • Course Instruction Provided by Highly Qualified Faculty
  • Multiple Assessment Practices
  • Career Support

Additional data from the INSPIRE survey suite: The following research briefs offer aggregate data on the INSPIRE Program Preparation (PP) and INSPIRE Graduate (G) Surveys administered nationwide.

The INSPIRE– PP edition offers information about program structuring and the varying components that comprise a program. This research brief highlights a sample of aggregated findings from the INSPIRE-PP. Ninety-seven UCEA member institutions from the United States are included in the findings, marking a 92% response rate.

           Research Utilization Brief: Findings from the 2016 INSPIRE-Preparation Program (PP) Survey

The INSPIRE-G edition was administered to a national sample of educational leadership program graduates in the summer of 2016. Almost all respondents had attended a UCEA member institutions’ program. Specifically, 1,110 leadership graduates completed the survey, representing 29 institutions and 38 preparation programs, as some institutions included multiple program graduates in the survey administration.

           Research Utilization Brief: Findings from the 2016 INSPIRE-Graduate (G) Survey

The State Evaluation of Principal Preparation Programs Toolkit (SEP3 Toolkit)

UCEA and New Leaders have partnered to create a set of resources and tools designed to help states improve principal preparation by reforming their current approach to evaluating educational administration programs.

SEP3 Toolkit provides essential guidance on implementing a more in-depth and rigorous principal preparation evaluation process, thereby enabling states to accurately assess quality, promote improvement, and intervene in the case of performance that raises concerns.

The report also reviews contextual factors states should consider when adapting the recommendations to local conditions, and includes supplementary resources and tools to help states carry out the work. Together, these materials will allow states to undertake an informed and sophisticated approach to the complex undertaking of improving principal preparation.

Just Ask

Simply because a preparation program is sanctioned by a state to provide leadership certification or licensure does not mean the program reflects research-based features; nor does it mean the program produces high quality leaders. When investigating how well principals are being prepared to support teacher quality and student achievement, it is helpful to ask the few simple questions outlined in this document.

         JUST ASK-Guide for Exploring the Quality of Leadership Preparation