Leadership Initiative for Transforming Schools (LIFTS): K-12 Principal Certificate Program
The School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh K-12 Principal certificate program is a 15-month cohort-based. The program grounds the personal and professional growth of aspiring school leaders in three themes: Ethics, Inquiry, and Integrity. Presented in an executive format, the Leadership Initiative for Transforming Schools (LIFTS) program collaborates with units in the School of Education and across the University to teach the four study areas, including the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies and Institute for Learning.
The purpose of our principal certificate program is to develop educational leaders of character and integrity who are inspired by a sense of justice to improve the achievement of all students. Drawing from the fields of education and management, the program equips leaders with expertise in instructional, institutional and public leadership grounded in ethics, inquiry, and integrity. The program encourages the shift from teacher leadership to administrative leadership through academic rigor in the classroom, authentic experiences in schools and reflective opportunities for integrating personal and professional growth. The program emphasizes:
- Selectivity - Aspiring school leaders will join small cohorts of highly qualified peers who share a clear goal and conviction-becoming exceptional leaders. A select group of the most talented teacher leaders in our area will study with a community of mentors, master practitioners and scholars.
- Rigor - Participants will engage in a coherent evidence-based curriculum designed to meet the Pennsylvania Core and Corollary Standards for School Leaders in an executive-style format.
- Balance - The curriculum builds on the participants’ teacher leadership in a four consecutive term (15-month) program that blends breakthrough curriculum, authentic school experiences, and reflective practices to integrate personal and professional growth. Responding to the growing complexity of the role of principal, the principal preparation program will develop effective change agents through curricular blocks emphasizing leader as learner, instructional leadership, institutional leadership and public leadership.
- Experiential Learning - Two Summer Institutes and intensive internships each term with mentor principals will address the core needs of school leaders and the critical issues facing children, teachers and administrators.
- Relational - Participants will deepen their appreciation for their individual leadership strengths and challenges, the role of principals as agents of change and the leader as a learner.
- Partnerships - Currently, we have a signed partnership agreement with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit #3
- Collaborations - Several University research and practice Institutes, Centers, and Partners informed the design and delivery of the program, including the Institute for Learning (IFL) designing and delivering the 5-credit Instructional Leadership Block and Learning Policy Center designing and delivering the 4 -credit Public Leadership Block
The Department of Administrative and Policy Studies offers a K-12 Principal certificate that aligns with the PA Department of Education’s new Core and Corollary Standards and Special Education Competencies for School Leaders, the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium’s Standards for School Leaders (2008), and the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) Leadership Responsibilities
- Evidenced-based admission process
- Four Consecutive Terms (beginning in the summer)
- Cohort structure
- Orientation (one Saturday during first term)
- Intensive internships each term with mentor principals
- Summer Institutes (one 5-day session) each summer
- Rigorous, evidenced-based coherent curriculum
- Hybrid and online courses
- Collaboration with units within the School of Education and across the University
- Formative and Summative Student and Program Evaluation
The purpose of the principal preparation program is to develop educational leaders of character and integrity who are inspired by a sense of justice to improve the achievement of all students. Drawing from the fields of education and management, the program equips leaders with expertise in instructional, institutional and public leadership grounded in ethics, inquiry, and integrity.
The recent school leadership literature and the Levine report recommend that principal preparation programs be designed to integrate students’ course work and professional experiences with attentiveness to adult learning theory. The resulting curricular coherence builds on the strengths and experience of students to provide a practical and holistic learning environment. The new principal certificate program will seek to offer practical, authentic experiences to improve student learning and achievement based on cutting edge research by drawing on the University of Pittsburgh’s renowned centers, such as the Institute for Learning, and partnerships, with regional campuses, school districts, and intermediate units. Responding to the growing complexity of the role of principal, the principal preparation program will develop effective change agents through curricular blocks emphasizing:
- Executive-style seminar - Instruction about topics essential for the preparation of school leaders is organized in the curricular blocks.
- Cohort Structure - A cohort structure provides a support base for professional growth and learning. Diversity in the cohort is sought and valued.
- Formative and Summative Program Evaluation - Program features such as curriculum and instructional delivery will be evaluated, monitored, and improved each term. Students, faculty, and mentor principals collaborate to review data and make program improvements.
- Internships with Mentor Principals – Internship experiences are required of all participants during the academic year. The partnerships with school districts are well-established in our current program and will continue and expand in our new program. Mentor principals are carefully selected in our current program and will continue to be carefully selected in the new program to work with students during the internship experience.
- Mentor Principals - We will encourage aspiring school leaders to reach excellence by engaging them in a range of internship experiences with high quality mentor principals. Mentor principals know how to support teachers, manage curriculum and instruction to promote student achievement, and transform schools into more effective organizations that foster purposeful teaching and learning for all students. Mentor principals oversee the development of the critical competencies that principals need to ensure a high-performance learning environment for all students. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) report synthesized their research findings and reviewed the literature to identify the critical components of an effective mentoring program for aspiring and beginning principals. The report concludes that without standards, commitment and shared responsibility for results, mentoring becomes a random act of benevolence-resulting in unreliable quality, inconsistent experiences and haphazard mastery of essential competencies to improve teaching.
- The program proposes to implement a rigorous selection process, provide high quality training, and institute ongoing evaluation of mentor principals. Mentor principals will be selected based on their ability to demonstrate effective practices for improving teaching and learning outlined in the SREB report.
For more information regarding prerequisites for admission, the application process, and specific elements of curriculum, please review a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the LIFTS program.
Want to discover more? Watch a testimonial from Hartwood Elementary Principal Rachel Fischbaugh, or view a variety of our other testimonials.