Recently our department (Educational Leadership [EDL]) was accepted as a participant into a leadership collaborative for a large urban school district (LUD). The collaborative is aimed at developing high quality principals that fit the particular needs of LUD and making the district attractive to urban leaders (omitted for confidentiality, 2013a). As a result of this collaboration, EDL created a cohort for our doctoral program focused on the particular needs of the District and urban leaders. In order to best prepare our candidates for the needs of the District, we conducted a utilization-focused program evaluation (Patton, 2008) to gain a better understanding of how we can revise and improve our program to meet this particular focus. Through interviews with leaders inside of the District who work closely with District principals we found valuable insight that will inform our program as we launch the first LUD focused doctoral cohort in Summer 2016. Our interviews suggest that it is important to incorporate more people as adjuncts and/or guest speakers who know what LUD looks like in practice. Unlike many other districts, principals in LUD have considerable autonomy with a lot to manage. Our preliminary findings suggest that principals in LUD would benefit from personalized professional development experiences that are tailored to their current needs or to help address a current issue in their school. In addition, as coursework is developed, principal preparation programs must create a curriculum that takes into consideration experiences that can candidates can apply to their work context. We believe that we can use the cohort model and the mentoring component of the ULC to focus providing our aspiring LUD leaders with some of this tailored professional development.
Gibson, Harrington and Minor, Elizabeth, "Developing an Effective Urban Public Schools Principal Cohort Program" (2016). NCE Research Residencies. 6.