Republican lawmaker plans professional training bill for principals
Blue lockers seen in a school hallway. (Getty)
A Republican senator plans to file a bill that could offer new pathways for training principals, along with some monetary benefits.
Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said that the bill aims to create more intensive training for principals, and increase pay for those who complete it.
He said that bill came out of conversations with educators who said a principal is critical to the success of a school.
“So, if you have a very low performing principal, by and large, now there’ll be some exceptions with Miss Jones’ classroom or Mr. Smith’s classroom, but the school will be lower performing, as well,” he said. “If you have a high-performing successful principal, they can lift all classrooms up and have the school performing at a higher level.”
Orr said that he believed that many principals learn through on-the-job training.
Currently, Alabama has eight standards laid out for instructional leaders. Instructional leaders are expected to plan for continuous improvement; promote and monitor teaching and learning; develop faculty and staff, respect and respond to the diverse needs of students; sustain community relationships; integrate current technologies; manage the learning organization and demonstrate ethics.
Educators can get professional training on those standards, said Vic Wilson, executive director for the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS), a professional organization for school administrators. Anyone with an administrative certificate has to complete five units within a five-year period.
Some of the professional learning units currently offered by CLAS include “Promoting Continuous Improvement in Schools & Districts;” “Supporting Whole System Mental Health and Wellbeing in Education: A Learning Circle for Leaders;” Providing Effective Feedback for Improving Classroom Instruction” and “Leaders Building Schools of Character.”
“Anybody that thinks we don’t have standards and adjudicate our leaders based on those standards would be mistaken,” Wilson said.
Wilson said that he believes that any set of standards is a good thing. Principals, like teachers, should be lifelong learners, he said.
“Anything we can do to show we have exemplary leadership is very good for those under their care,” he said.
Orr compared the idea to national board certification for teachers. To earn certification, teachers complete assessments and portfolios to demonstrate their grasp of five core propositions: being committed to students and learning; knowing the subjects and how to teach them; being responsible for managing and monitoring student learning; thinking systemically about practice and learning from the experience and being a member of a learning community.
In Alabama, certified teachers get an annual $5,000 stipend on top of their pay. Orr said he was considering something similar for administrators.
“And, so, we’re of that mindset to certainly reward principals that want to go the extra mile and receive the training, and then we want to certainly incentivize them to take that training,” Orr said.
The 2023 regular session of the Alabama Legislature starts on March 7.
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