The University of San Diego’s program to develop outstanding school principals already has been recognized in several important studies on promoting student success. Now the nation’s top educational leader has taken notice.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recognized USD’s Educational Leadership Development Academy (ELDA) in a speech to some 1,200 deans and faculty of schools of education late last month.
Speaking at the 62nd annual conference of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), Duncan discussed the importance of providing outstanding school principal preparation programs so that all children in the nation’s K-12 schools achieve success. Duncan (pictured at right) cited ELDA as one of the most effective and innovative school leadership programs in the nation, calling it a “top-notch” program.
Paula Cordeiro, dean of USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences, was in the audience as Duncan made his remarks. Cordeiro was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the AACTE.
In his speech, Duncan said the position of principal has changed dramatically over the years and is critical to a school’s success. “Today the job of a principal is to be an instructional leader, not just a supervisor. Top-flight school leaders are more like CEOs than building managers.”
ELDA was created in 2000 to address the shortage of principals in the San Diego Unified School District by attracting exceptional teachers who would work to improve teacher expertise and in turn, raise student achievement.
As of 2005, 38 schools in San Diego Unified were led by ELDA graduates. Of those 38 schools, 31 or 81 percent, showed growth on the state of California’s measure of achievement, the Academic Performance Index, some by as much as 78 points. Schools led by leadership academy graduates demonstrated improved achievement and generated considerable enthusiasm for the program. The program is now open to prospective candidates in public and private charter schools throughout San Diego County.
ELDA was recognized as an Exemplary Principal Preparation program in a 2009 study by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning and as an Exemplary Leadership Development program in a 2007 Stanford University study.
— Liz Harman