Slow progress for bill to toughen principal preparation

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A state Senate bill that would create a new principal endorsement with
more stringent requirements for candidates is stuck in committee.

A state Senate bill that would create a new principal endorsement with more stringent requirements for candidates is stuck in committee.

State Rep. Roger Eddy (R-Hutsonville) told Catalyst Chicago that the bill has stalled in the Senate’s education committee because Chicago Public Schools – concerned it would exclude a particular program – wants to rewrite its language. The spring 2010 issue of Catalyst In Depth reported on the specifics of the bill, including an internship, tougher requirements for selecting and assessing principal candidates, and mandatory partnerships between preparation programs and school districts. 

Currently, the bill refers only to university programs and does not mention non-profit organizations that offer alternative principal preparation, such as New Leaders for New Schools. As a result, it is unclear whether the proposed bill would allow such alternative routes.

Monica Santana Rosen, head of the CPS Office of Principal Preparation and Development, says the district is still discussing the bill with legislators to determine whether it would limit alternative programs.

Rosen says CPS is not seeking any exemption from the new, tougher standards. “It’s too premature for me to say that we are expecting to add language around alternative [principal] certification,” Rosen says.

Since the bill has been amended in both the Senate and the House, its language cannot be changed again, says Eddy. If new language is needed, a new bill would have to be introduced.

“We thought all of the stakeholders had provided input, but apparently CPS has some concerns still,” Eddy says. “Clearly the state board thought Chicago was okay with it.” 

The changes would take effect in fall 2012, a year later than the state had originally indicated.

Among the bill’s requirements is an increase in teaching experience for prospective principals, from the current two years to four. However, it allows the state to create an exception for teachers who come in with strong performance evaluations.

Current principals and assistant principals would be allowed to keep their current posts and apply for new jobs without having to go through the certification process again.

Eddy notes that some current principals might want the new endorsement because it would give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The bill outlines three ways that current administrators could earn the new endorsement:

*Passing a principal assessment developed by the Illinois State Board of Education.

*Completing a state-approved Illinois Administrators’ Academy course.

*Attending a principal preparation program approved under the new state rules.

“Maybe a school district, when it’s looking for a principal, will look at that new endorsement as desirable,” Eddy says.