Handbook for M.Ed. in Educational Leadership
The School Leadership Program including the MEd in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification Program that is offered by the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the College of Education at Texas A&M University-Central Texas will prepare school leaders who are capable of facilitating the creative work of school communities that leads to student and school success in the midst of a constantly changing environment.
A Handbook tO SCHOOL LEADERSHIP PREPARATION
The purpose of this guide is to provide direction and support for those aspiring to school leadership, candidates engaged in the MEd in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification Program at TAMUCT, campus principals who serve as mentors to school leadership candidates, field supervisors who assist with the principal practicum, and university faculty and administrators who facilitate high levels of learning and support throughout the program.
A NEED fOR AUTHENTIC SCHOOL LEADERSHIP PREPARATION
Meeting the diverse challenges ahead for Texas elementary and secondary schools requires deep change – altering the current prek-12 educational system in fundamental ways, generating a dramatic shift in direction, and creating new ways of thinking and working. Standards-based accountability demands transformation of learning processes and realignment of responsibility levels for both children and adults. Teachers, students, and parents must be involved in meaningful ways, presenting a complex challenge for school leaders.
From the moment school leaders are hired in Texas, they are expected to mobilize the school community in improvement efforts focused on success for all students. Leading schools today means developing a culture of joint responsibility for high expectations and continuous learning. It means growing student, teacher, staff, parent, and community leaders who are engaged in shared inquiry about learning challenges across the community of practice. Crucial to each leader’s success in this complex environment is development of knowledge and skill in a relevant, research-based preparation program.
School leadership preparation programs hold a key position in the development of such a potentially powerful resource – aspiring principals who hold the experience, ideas, creativity, and capacity to lead campus communities. Facilitated by the Institute for Educational Leadership in 2001, a distinguished task force concluded that there are many thousands of accomplished teachers who “possess, in abundance…some of the very characteristics that shape informed leadership.” These special qualities – knowledge of children and subject matter, empathy, dedication, technique, sensitivity to communities and families, readiness to help, team spirit, and the ability to communicate and build systems capacity – “are an essential side of school leadership.”
The need is acute for additional teacher leaders to develop the skill to act in broader leadership roles in their school communities, enabling their organizations to leverage change efforts and guide continuous improvement. The MEd in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification Program at TAMUCT provides a quality step in the educational leadership pipeline – moving its candidates from teacher leader towards principal leadership.
School Leadership Preparation at A&M-Central Texas
TAMUCT candidates for school leadership, particularly the principalship, earn a master’s degree in educational leadership and are able to exhibit readiness for state principal certification. Designed for self-starters who are already stepping up as teacher leaders in Texas schools, the rigorous 36-hour educational leadership master’s degree is not a minimal, check-the-box, module-based program. Candidates engage in collaborative learning to develop the knowledge and skills that define so many exciting and complex leadership roles in prek-12 education.
All program activities are rooted in reality, acquired through hands-on experiences, and anchored by a combination of online and face-to-face learning formats with the master’s degree completed in 24 months. Practicum experiences with “real” process and product development in every course prepare candidates for a customized two-semester-long practicum. Supported review for the EDLD Comprehensive exam and Principal TExES exam is included in this final two semesters, with state certificate application immediately following successful completion of the program requirements. And the good news – TAMUCT principal program completers in recent cohorts achieved a 100% passing rate on the Principal TExES, certainly a credit to their focused learning work and to the many folks in families, school districts, communities, and the university who supported their efforts.
The following broad stroke learning outcomes anchor the program along with the state standards for the principalship (Appendix p2):
- Organize for excellence through continuous improvement while ensuring equity for all students.
- Initiate flexibility and growth through a capacity-building culture of inquiry anchored by learning for all.
- Employ ethical decision making while tapping the “common ground” perspectives of all stakeholders.
- Engage community stakeholders – especially parents – through intentional, student-focused partnerships.
- Plan strategically and lead creatively through development and utilization of scarce resources.
- Sustain a learning program that ensures high expectations in meeting each student’s unique learning needs.
- Facilitate professional growth for faculty and staff that ensures capacity to meet P-12 student’s needs.
- Tackle complex school issues from a systems perspective to create generative, equitable and focused solutions.
- Develop and utilize high performance teams to maximize collaborative efforts of students, parents, and staff.
TAMUCT candidates enjoy the flexibility and convenience of online learning without sacrificing the face-to- face relationship connection, building a tight community of inquiry with other cohort participants. TAMUCT’s highly respected MEd in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification Program now offers the same level of excellence with a cohort-based, online and online-blended program.
Getting Started - Recruitment & Admissions
Interested in becoming a member of the network of TAMUCT school leadership alumni who now serve as school leaders in Central Texas and around the world? Candidates are recruited from Texas school districts and beyond. Apply now to join a cohort forming for next semester. The MEd in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification Program application process includes the following steps: 1) apply to TAMUCT Graduate Studies by completing the on-line ApplyTexas Admissions Application, 2) apply to the MEd in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification Program (Forms p3), and 3) complete the interview process. Applicants must meet both TAMUCT graduate school and principal program criteria for selection.
Graduate School Admission
Applicants who are US citizens must have/submit the following TAMUCT graduate school criteria for full admission: 1) all official transcripts, 2) a bachelor’s degree from an accredited higher education institution, 3) a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 system in the last 60 hours of coursework for full admission OR GRE scores of 285+ for conditional admission with a grade average between 2.5 and 2.99, and 4) a written essay about graduate school and career goals. Admission will not be granted, however, to a student whose GPA is less than 2.5 on the last 60 hours of completed coursework. Official transcripts and, if needed, GRE scores must be submitted at the time of application. When a student entering on conditional admission has satisfied a 3.0 GPA condition through 6 hours of master’s degree coursework, he/she may be granted full admission after being recommended by the MEd in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification Program. International students should check with the Graduate Admissions office concerning specific degree and language requirements. Minimum scores required on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) are 80 (internet-based), 213 (computer- based), or 550 (paper-based). NOTE: Limited transfer credit is accepted at the discretion of Program Coordinator and university policy.
School Leadership MEd/Principal Certificate Program Admission
Once admitted to the graduate school, students apply for admission to the MEd in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification Program by completing a Program Application with the following attachments: a 500-word essay about leadership experiences and goals, at least two supporting leadership performance artifacts, all official sealed transcripts, a valid teaching certificate, and three letters of reference (one from supervising school administrator). Applications must indicate two years of teaching experience by providing a service record. Students are then interviewed by a program faculty member and complete a set of job-like principal leadership activities that are assessed by program faculty. Applicants must score a 24 out of 32 possible points on the Interview Rubric to qualify for admission to the program. NOTE: After formal admission, a Candidate who leaves the program must complete a Non-Participation form and turn it in to the Program Coordinator (Forms p3) in addition to withdrawing from the university through the university registrar’s office at 254.519.5438 or https://www.tamuct.edu/departments/registrar/index.php.
Setting a Standard of Excellence as a Candidate for School Leadership
Every Candidate accepted into TAMUCT MEd in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification Program is required to maintain a high level of performance and comply fully with the policies of the university and educator preparation. The university reserves the right to suspend any graduate student who does not maintain satisfactory academic standing or fails to conform to university regulations. Candidates are expected to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA in principal certificate program coursework. Any Candidate who earns lower than a grade of B in a program course must meet with the Program Coordinator to discuss performance, progress, and program continuation. Additionally, the Candidate is required to meet the standards delineated in the TAMUCT Student Handbook and the Texas Educator’s Code of Ethics (Appendix p3). A Code of Ethics Assurance of Commitment form must be signed at the time of admission (Forms p3).
The MEd in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification Program foundational Fit2Lead Continuous Improvement Plan and the Leadership Competency Inventory (Forms p3) are utilized at the end of each semester to measure both content and leadership skills through self-reflection, instructor feedback, peer assessment, and principal mentor comment. With the assistance of the Program Coordinator and Principal Mentor, the Candidate reviews the feedback and makes adjustments to the ongoing plan. Failure to meet the academic standards in the Fit2Lead analysis and/or failure to comply with the Texas Educator’s Code of Ethics (19TAC §247.2) may result in program exit.
ASSURANCE oF ONLINE LEARNING CAPABILITY
IT constructing hardware/software capabilities needs, Canvas interface explanation, E-portfolio Directions
All program coursework will be anchored to the TAMU-CT Canvas Learn learning management system for class communications, content distribution, and assessments. Logon to https://tamuct.canvas.com to access the course. Username: Your MyCT username (xx123 or everything before the "@" in your MyCT e-mail address). Initial password: Your MyCT password.
For all coursework, you will need reliable and frequent access to a computer and to the Internet. Check browser and computer compatibility by following the “Browser Check” link on the TAMU-CT Canvas logon page. (https://tamuct.canvas.com) This is a CRITICAL step as these settings are important for when you take an exam or submit an assignment. Upon logging on to Canvas Learn, you will see a link to Canvas Student Orientation under My Courses tab. Click on that link and study the materials in this orientation course.
There is also a link to Canvas Help from inside the course on the left-hand menu bar. The first week of the course includes activities and assignments that will help you get up to speed with navigation, sending and receiving messages and discussion posts, and submitting an assignment. Your ability to function within the Canvas system will facilitate your success in this course. Technology issues are not an excuse for missing a course requirement – make sure your computer is configured correctly and address issues well in advance of deadlines
For issues related to course content and requirements, contact your instructor. For technological or computer issues, students should contact Help Desk Central. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Learning Framework for School Leadership Preparation
Relevant and aligned curriculum, instructional relevance, and expert faculty provide the ingredients for an effective learning framework for school leadership candidates.
The Program Curriculum
Program curriculum is aligned with Texas principal standards (19TAC 241.15), the Principal TExES domains and competencies, and the nationally-recognized Professional Standards for Educational Leadership and the National Educational Leadership Program Standards, both from the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA). Program faculty continually scan research and best practice literature as well as feedback from Principal Mentors, the Principal CAPS advisory group, and other central Texas school leaders to ensure that the ever-changing role of school leaders is reflected in course competencies, learning activities, performance assessments, and program products. Every course has a standards-based learning plan with course learning objectives, knowledge and skill building learning activities, and assessment for and of learning. Mastery of learning objectives that are practiced in learning activities, performed in course assessments, and evidenced by course products remains the goal. Performance on benchmark practicum projects serves as the foundational guide for advising students concerning their progress in the program.
The Course Learning Sequence
Streamlined to include only the most important and relevant learning outcomes, the course sequence represents 36 hours of course content and additional practicum experiences. All program learning is cohort-based and delivered in either an online or online-blended format.
EDLD 5300. Foundations of Educational Leadership. 3 Semester Credit Hours.
Study lenses of power, influence, ethics, and leadership theory. Compare personal diagnoses of leadership, learning, and personality strengths to the knowledge and skill set needed for leadership of prek-12 schools. Prerequisite(s): Admission to program and approval of program coordinator. Certification Fee - $150.
EDLD 5301. Research in Educational Leadership. 3 Semester Credit Hours.
Study the fundamentals of research with emphasis on research terminology, design, methodology, data collection, ethics, psychometric measurement qualities, and quantitative and qualitative research paradigms. Develop research and evaluation skills necessary to become critical consumers and producers of research in prek-12 schools. Prerequisite(s): Admission to program and approval of program coordinator.
EDLD 5339. Processes of Educational Leadership. 3 Semester Credit Hours.
Study effective organizational processes in prek-12 schools. Special emphasis on learning organization strategies, exemplary leadership practices, and collaborative action tools, in order to support the development of a flexible and creative culture continuously engaged in school improvement. Prerequisite(s): Admission to program and approval of program coordinator.
EDLD 5345. Leadership of Curriculum Systems. 3 Semester Credit Hours.
Study curriculum systems in prek-12 schools. Learn to create, integrate, implement, and evaluate curriculum. Special emphasis on curriculum leadership and decision making that link student developmental needs with high levels of learning, and supporting teachers in the curriculum implementation process. Prerequisite(s): Admission to program and approval of program coordinator.
EDLD 5355. Leadership of Diverse Learning Communities. 3 Semester Credit Hours.
Study diverse prek-12 school communities with an emphasis on ethical issues dealing with leadership, governance, and policy development. Develop processes for identifying and ameliorating issues associated with demographic and cultural differences. Learn to facilitate internal and external community engagement to achieve equity and excellence within the school system. Prerequisite(s): Admission to program and approval of program coordinator.
EDLD 5316. Leadership of Effective Instruction. 3 Semester Credit Hours.
Develop instructional practice in prek-12 schools with the use of data analysis, learning strategies, special programs support, technology integration, and coaching protocols. Special emphasis on maintaining a continuous improvement cycle to ensure equity and engagement of all students. Advancing Educational Leadership (AEL), a state-required teacher appraiser certification course, is included. $75 AEL certificate fee. Prerequisite(s): Admission to program and approval of program coordinator.
EDLD 5307. Leadership of Human Resources. 3 Semester Credit Hours.
Examine supervision and evaluation of faculty and staff in prek-12 schools. Study effective supervisory and evaluation approaches for the development of a continuous improvement learning culture for faculty and staff. The Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS), a state-required teacher appraiser certification course, is included. $75 T-TESS certificate fee. Prerequisite(s): Admission to program and approval of program coordinator.
EDLD 5309. Legal Issues in School Leadership. 3 Semester Credit Hours.
Explore legal issues impacting the administration of prek-12 schools. Understand the ethical application of legal principles found in relevant constitutional, statutory, administrative, and case law. Learn how these laws and principles determine operation, organization, and administration of prek-12 schools. Special emphasis is placed on the relationship of state and federal law. Prerequisite(s): Admission to program and approval of program coordinator.
EDLD 5342. Leadership of Campus Resources. 3 Semester Credit Hours.
Examine school resources in support of school improvement. Develop integrated continuous improvement processes supported by optimal allocation of financial, human, technological, facility, time, and other campus resources. Special emphasis on developing a safe and engaging school learning environment. Prerequisite(s): Admission to program and approval of program coordinator.
EDLD 5392. Principalship Practicum. 3 Semester Credit Hours.
The Principalship Practicum 1 course is delivered the first semester of the two-semester practicum experience. Candidates in the course will demonstrate competent professional practice through supervised activities in the culminating experience for the MEd/Principal Certificate program. Candidates will also implement an action plan for professional growth and school improvement based on state standards and leadership practices. For satisfactory completion of practicum requirements, course may be repeated one time. Field experience fee - $75. Prerequisite(s): Admission into program and approval of program coordinator.
EDLD 5360. Educational Leadership Applications. 3 Semester Credit Hours.
Apply leadership theory to campus leadership practice. Analyze critical issues in school leadership through the integration of the roles of the principle with professional experience. Master’s degree comprehensive exam preparation and Principal Practicum planning are included. Prerequisite(s): Admission to program and approval of program coordinator.
EDLD 5393. Principalship Practicum 2. 3 Semester Credit Hours.
The Principalship Practicum 2 course is delivered the second semester of the two-semester practicum experience. Candidates in the course will demonstrate competent professional practice through supervised activities in the culminating experience for the MEd/Principal Certificate program. Candidates will also implement an action plan for professional growth and school improvement based on state standards and leadership practices. For satisfactory completion of practicum requirements, course may be repeated one time. Field experience fee - $75. Prerequisite(s): Admission into program and approval of program coordinator.
Designed for those who are serious about leading dynamic learning organizations that effectively meet the needs of all involved in prek-12 campus communities, the rigorous 36-hour principal certificate program in no way resembles a minimal, seat time-driven program. Students engage in in-depth learning across all of the Texas principal standards to develop the knowledge and skills demanded of prek-12 school leaders.
The 450 clock hours of sequenced coursework that make up the master’s degree are grounded by leadership and learning theory and utilized in hands-on practicum activities in every course. Each course is delivered in either an Online or Online-Blended instructional format. Supported in a cohort environment, students take two courses per semester and complete their coursework for the master’s degree in 24 months. Progress through the program is tracked using the MEd in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification Program degree plan (Forms p3).
To ensure quality and rigor, program instructors facilitate relevant learning activities and performance assessments. Course syllabi call for practicum product/process development under the guidance of the Principal Mentor. Both instructors and students have access to training and ongoing support concerning the TAMUCT Canvas platform. Online activities focus on knowledge building through dialogue sessions anchored by course texts and collaborative planning for case studies and problem-based learning projects. Real time assignments utilizing the Candidate’s school setting as a laboratory are supported by the Principal Mentor.
Course activity development and implementation is based on the standards and rubrics embedded in the Quality Matters continuous improvement model for online learning.
The Principal Practicum
The thread of practicum “on time” learning that is pulled through every course in the program culminates in the two-semester Principal Practicum courses in the fifth and sixth semesters of the principal certificate program.
Planning for the practicum actually begins in the second half of the fourth semester. The Candidate reviews: 1) personal learning progress as evidenced by his/her Professional Portfolio of artifacts and reflections related to the principal standards and collected throughout the program, and 2) the needs of his/her home campus as identified in the School Portfolio created in MEd coursework.
Working with the Site and University Field Supervisors, the Candidate creates a customized internship plan of action and learning that benefits personal professional growth and school improvement. The plan of action consists of facilitation of two major improvement projects and three to five school leadership activities across the key school leadership areas. These leadership areas are clearly linked to the Texas principal standards, T-PESS standards, T-TESS standards, TExES competencies, and the continuous improvement strands of the School Portfolio integrated management process (Information and Analysis, Quality Planning, Student Achievement, Leadership, Professional Development, Collaborative Partnerships, and Continuous Improvement/ Evaluation). The University Field Supervisor (the campus principal unless otherwise approved by the Program Coordinator) must sign the practicum application, indicating approval of the Candidate’s participation and a willingness to provide support during the hands-on experience.
Following the acceptance of the practicum application, the Candidate works closely with the Site and University Field Supervisors to complete practicum projects and activities as well as a multi-level exploration paper, weekly journal entries, the TExES review, and a campus improvement critique within the two-semester EDLD 5392/5393 Principal Practicum. Most Candidates maintain classroom teacher positions and work on practicum activities an additional twelve to fifteen hours per week, a total of 192 clock hours or more that far surpasses the state requirement of 160 clock hours. The hourly totals per week are based on individual action plan activities and assignment due dates. While this represents a demanding commitment, the Candidate receives hands-on support from both the Site and University Field Supervisors. Three formal observations of the student’s leadership practice are scheduled by the University Field Supervisor, with the first observation completed and the written report shared in an interactive conference no later than week five of the semester. The total observation time may be no less than 135 minutes.
THE MASTER’S DEGREE COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION aND GRADUATION
The Master’s Degree Comprehensive Exam is taken by Candidates late in the fifth or sixth semester of coursework. Candidates must make formal application to take the exam (Forms p3) and should request participation by potential committee members and chair before applying. The exam must be successfully completed for graduation. Any Candidate who is not successful on both sections of the exam may retake the exam in the following semester. Candidates will be notified of their performance according to Graduate Office deadlines late in the semester.
Graduation and degree conferral follow completion of all coursework with at least a 3.0 GPA and successful performance on the Master’s Comprehensive Exam. Students apply to graduate early in the sixth semester of master’s degree coursework. All students are required to submit a graduation application (Forms p3) and a university fee. Students who miss the published deadline for the current semester are eligible to submit the graduation application for the next term. Late applications will NOT be accepted. “Hooding” of Candidates is part of degree conferral at commencement and should not be missed. For more information about graduation, class rings, diplomas, commencement, and regalia, visit the graduate office graduation site at https://www.tamuct.edu/graduate-studies/index.html.
PRINCIPAL TEXES, PROGRAM EXIT, and CERTIFICATION
Candidates seeking standard principal certification take a TExES practice test during the practicum semesters. If the Candidate’s practice score is 75 or above, the Program Coordinator gives approval to take the Principal TExES. If the score is less than 75, an inquiry session is held with the Program Coordinator who will either grant test approval or facilitate the development and completion of a remediation plan. NOTE: In time-sensitive situations, test approval may be given before practicum completion if all observations are completed.
Once testing approval has been received from the Program Coordinator, Educator Preparation Services (EPS) contacts the Candidate with information about the TExES registration process. If the Candidate is not successful on the first TExES attempt, the Program Coordinator will facilitate a remediation plan. The Candidate may attempt the Principal TExES five times. Certification testing must be completed within 24 months of completing certification program requirements.
Principal TExES Approval Steps:
- The signed FERPA release document is on file in candidate’s record.
- Acceptable performance on 068 release test has been documented OR remediation plan is completed.
- The request for testing approval form is completed by the candidate and forwarded to the Program Coordinator.
- The Program Coordinator signs the testing approval form indicating that all program coursework including the practicum has been successfully completed.
- EPS Testing Coordinator reviews testing approval form/candidate record for verification and notifies candidate concerning test registration.
- EPS Testing Coordinator notifies Program Coordinator of TExES scores. If the score is 240+, the candidate moves to exit activities. If not, a remediation plan is completed by the candidate under the supervision of the Program Coordinator and the candidate tests again (maximum five attempts).
Upon receipt of a passing score on the Principal TExES, the Candidate and Program Coordinator schedule an Exit Interview. In preparation for the interview, the Candidate: 1) requests that a service record be emailed from his or her school district human resources office to the Program Coordinator, 2) develops and emails a final Fit2Lead Reflection to the Program Coordinator, and 3) fills out the Program Completer’s Survey (Forms p3) for use in the Exit Interview. Following the Exit Interview, the Program Coordinator provides final documents to the Certification Officer who verifies all program requirements and documentation and then recommends the Candidate for certification to the State Board for Educator Certification.
Program Exit Steps
- Candidate schedules exit interview with Program Coordinator.
- Candidate requests service record from school district human resources office to be emailed directly to the Program Coordinator.
- Candidate emails copy of final professional development planning document to Program Coordinator.
- Candidate finalizes completer’s exit survey.
- Exit interview held; candidate turns in completer’s exit survey.
- Service record, professional development planning document, and copy of completer’s exit survey are placed in candidate record.
- Candidate applies for standard principal certification through SBEC.
- Candidate is recommended for standard principal certification.
NOTE: Application may be made by a Candidate to SBEC for a probationary principal certificate if the Candidate has completed 12 semester hours of coursework, has been a teacher of record for a minimum of two years, and has received a letter of intent to hire from an accredited school district for a role that requires principal certification. If probationary certification is granted by SBEC, the Candidate must enroll in the Principal Practicum every semester until all coursework has been completed, the master’s degree has been awarded, the principal TExES has been passed, and standard principal certification has been confirmed. Any Candidate interested in pursuing probationary certification should contact the Program Coordinator for guidance.
Graduate School Application https://www.tamuct.edu/departments/graduatestudies/index.php
Intent to Pursue Certification Form https://www.tamuct.edu/educator-preparation-services/docs/8.0-intent-to-pursue-certification.pdf
TExES Testing & Program Exit Checklist https://www.tamuct.edu/educator-preparation-services/howtoregister.html
Complaints and Grievances
A candidate or former candidate, an applicant for candidacy, an employee or former employee of the Principal Certification Program, a Principal Mentor, a Director of Educator Preparation Services in a school district, charter school, or private school may submit to Educator Preparation Services (EPS) a complaint about an EPP for investigation and resolution without fear of retaliation. The EPS web address for further information is: https://www.tamuct.edu/departments/educatorpreparationservices/complaintprocess.php
If the complainant is a current A&M Central Texas student, the University Student Complaint Procedure must be followed. For more information, please contact the Associate Dean of Student Affairs (254.501.5877 or access the following website: http://www.tamuct.edu/departments/studentconduct/grievance.php.
All grade appeals should be directed to the Dean of the College of Education (254.519.5464). Information about the academic grade appeal process may be accessed at https://www.tamuct.edu/departments/education/index.php.