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MCLA helps to develop new leadership assessment

10/17/2013

Howard "Jake" Eberwein III, Ed.D., MCLA's dean of graduate and continuing education, is working on an assessment being developed by the Massachusetts Department of Education to ensure that educators meet high standards as they prepare to assume demanding school leadership roles, such as principal and superintendent.

Once completed, this new assessment for school leaders will be the first of its kind in the nation, as it requires school principal licensure candidates to complete a series of exercises in which they demonstrate competencies in four different leadership domains.

Eberwein (right), a 2003 graduate of MCLA's Master's of Education program - who also earned his certification as a graduate of the College's Leadership Academy in 2002 - was asked to sit on one of the advisory sub-groups that provide feedback on the validity of the assessments as they are being developed by Bank Street College in New York City in concert with the state's Department of Education.

"They reached out to the field to look for folks who are positioned to provide feedback, and I was fortunate enough to be asked to represent MCLA on one of these subcommittees," Eberwein said.

In addition to Eberwein serving on the advisory sub-group, MCLA further will be represented as the assessment is developed: a cohort of our Leadership Academy students will pilot one of the four parts that make up the assessment.

"Bank Street College asked for organizations to volunteer students and/or cohorts of students to test drive one of these four assessments," Eberwein explained. "We were fortunate enough to see a direct alignment with a course that we already had in play. It was a natural fit between the pilot assessment and what is occurring in this course."

As a result of Eberwein's participation in the development of the assessment and because MCLA's cohort will pilot part of the evaluation, educators who attend MCLA's Leadership Academy can be assured that their experiences in both courses and fieldwork will reflect the skills and competencies necessary to become licensed and successfully pass this performance assessment under development by the Commonwealth.

"It will be a requirement in the coming years, so being part of the pilot project ensures that our program reflects the expectations of the state," Eberwein said.

Requirements for school leadership licensure last changed in 2011. As a result, all approved programs remodeled their leadership programs to reflect the new standards, and applied to the Department of Education for program approval.

"We went through that last year with our advisory group, working with our liaison with the Department of Education. We've had a longstanding reputation for our Leadership Academy for successfully training school and district leaders. We wanted to continue to offer this to educators in the region," Eberwein said.

"Because we had the opportunity to participate as a member of the advisory team and also attend all of the informational and technical assistance meetings, we were able to preview, in a way, the expectations for school leaders so that we could embed these expectations into our program sequence," he continued.

"We're now ensuring that our core curriculum is aligned with the expectations of the Department of Education and what our prospective school leaders are going to be expected to know and do."

MCLA's Leadership Academy is a cohort model that blends academic content with practical skill and knowledge development. Created to support the advancement of working professionals, participants attend summer and weekend courses, with independent and online work assigned between sessions. 

For more information, go to www.mcla.edu/graduate/leadershipacademy.