Outside board will review principal credentials

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The School Reform Board has created a Principal Review Board outside the school system to review the credentials of aspiring principals.

It will be operated by the Chicago Education Alliance, which received a $50,000, six-month contract from the board. The alliance, a consortium of area university education departments underwritten by the Ford Foundation, tapped Roosevelt University Prof. Albert Bennett to serve as chair; the other members are Roosevelt Prof. George Olson, a former dean, and Frank Gardner, a former Board of Education president and subdistrict superintendent who now serves as administrative associate to the alliance. Six alliance representatives will serve on an advisory panel to the review board.

“This puts us in a better position with LSCs because credentials will be screened independently,” explains Chief Education Officer Cozette Buckney. “There’s no sense recreating the old Board of Examiners for this.” She also notes that, in general, the Reform Board favors privatization of board operations.

The contract likely will be renewed in February, she says.

The review process is kicking in as stiffened requirements to become a Chicago public school principal become effective and as principal contracts at 208 schools come up for renewal.

In addition to holding a state Type 75 certificate, Chicago principal candidates now must have six years of teaching and administrative or supervisory experience, ending in superior or excellent ratings. Plus, prospects must have 70 clock hours of classwork in teacher and staff evaluation, observation and remediation and professional development. A six-week internship under a seasoned principal is also required, save for freed assistant principals and candidates outside the school system.

School professionals weighing a principal bid must submit their resumes and credentials to the Review Board. “We will look at what you’ve done,” says Bennett. “Then we’ll inform you if you meet the requirements already or need to do more.”

This year, candidates have until July 1 to complete the requirements.

With a Review Board OK, a principal aspirant can proceed to the final steps—getting hired by a local school council and then completing a four-day induction run by central office. Over the summer, some 40 incoming principals underwent induction, which is heavy on procedural issues. Of those, 29 are serving as interim principals, with their contracts pending.

Buckney informed them in an October letter that they must complete the requirements by July 1 or forfeit their posts.

Candidates hired from outside the school system will have six months to move into the city, another new requirement of the Reform Board.

Meanwhile, the Illinois State Board of Education is considering changes in the courses required for principal certification; a pending proposal would bring them in line with national performance standards. A required internship also is under consideration.

For more information on the Review Board, call (312) 341-6485.