Commentator David Brooks, known for his work on PBS's NewsHour, NPR's "All Things Considered" and NBC's "Meet the Press," recently wrote about the significant improvement in student outcomes in the Chicago public school system. In the past seven years, graduation rates are up by over 20%, and the number of students going on to college directly after graduation is up over 13%. National test scores in Chicago are improving faster than those of students in any other major school district in the country.
The key to this improvement? Principals.
Brooks says "We've spent a lot of time over the past few decades debating how to restructure schools. We've spent a lot of time trying to help teachers. But structural change and increasing teacher quality don't get you very far without a strong principal."
Becoming a Strong School Leader
By focusing on the leadership skills that a strong school leader must have, the Master of Science in Education – Educational Leadership online program at Northwest Missouri State University equips graduates with the leadership skills they will need. The following five courses are part of the core curriculum for this program.
1. Visionary School Leadership
Developing school vision and mission statements is key to school improvement. Working in tandem with the school district's improvement plan, strong school leaders coordinate building goals with core values of the district. Then, using existing systems of support and following the school improvement process with fidelity, meaningful change can occur. During the required 21 hours of field experience, students taking the course in visionary leadership will learn and implement the entire process, from conducting an audit of the school's culture to creating an improvement plan.
2. Relational School Leadership
The success of any school leader is closely tied with how effectively he or she connects with families and the community. Engaging families, community, and school personnel in two-way communication strengthens student learning both in and out of school. Learning how to build and sustain productive partnerships with communities and public and private sectors promotes school improvement. The course on relational leadership also includes 21 hours of field experience.
3. Instructional School Leadership
In this course, "students will observe teachers in the PreK-12 classroom and provide meaningful feedback on instructional practices consistent with knowledge of learning theory, child development, and effective pedagogy." As students learn about best practices in curriculum, instruction and assessment, they will strengthen their skills for their roles as curriculum and program leaders. This course includes 21 hours of field experience.
4. Managerial School Leadership
Part of the day-to-day responsibilities of school leaders is to provide a safe and secure school building and learning environment that will promote not only the academic and social success but also the well-being of each K-12 student. Graduate students in this program learn effective management skills and the ability to operate the building facility and grounds to support student learning within the school budget. This course includes 21 hours of field experience.
5. Innovative School Leadership
Successful school leaders are dedicated to reflective practice. They understand the importance of professional growth knowing that development of new learning is a continual process. They apply new knowledge based on research and practice to driving changes required for student success. In addition, adapting to the changing environment around a school is key to building relationships and leading innovation. Students in this course learn a systems approach to innovative school leadership and gain 21 hours of field experience.
The Master of Science in Education – Educational Leadership Online
Northwest Missouri State University's 100% online Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership program consists of 30 credit hours and may be completed in as few as 12 months.
The same distinguished faculty that teaches on campus also teaches the online program. Offering multiple start dates, affordable tuition, and fully online coursework, this program prepares you for leadership in a variety of roles such as principal, educational administrator, and site coordinator.
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