Dallas ISD First to Get Help with Principal Retention

In response to low principal retention rates in Texas, The University of Texas at Austin's College of Education will be offering a master's degree in education on site in select urban Texas school districts. The degree will be designed to address each district's unique needs.

The University of Texas Collaborative Urban Leadership Project (UTCULP), a $3.3 million U.S. Department of Education grant-funded program in the College of Education, is making this specialized training for urban secondary school principals possible. Implementation of the project begins in June, and Dallas is the first city to receive the targeted training.

"Right now, principals in large urban districts around the nation tend to leave their jobs within the first three years," said Dr. Michelle Young, UTCULP co-principal investigator and executive director for the University Council for Educational Administration. "The UTCULP program's goal is to develop leaders who are dedicated to their schools long-term and have access to the resources and knowledge it takes to stay and transform secondary schools.

"The grant we received is funding the planning and development of the program and will provide money for student scholarships and mentoring stipends. Classes will be held on site in Dallas ISD and as candidates prepare for the principalship, they also will be earning a master's degree from The University of Texas at Austin, one of the top-ranked education schools in the country."

The pilot program will prepare two cohorts of about 24 graduate students each, with the first beginning this summer and the second starting in 2012. It takes two years to complete the 32 hours for the master's degree and principal certification requirements.

"We will assess the nominees and select those we feel best fit the goals of the program," said Dr. Mark A. Gooden, co-principal investigator and Principalship Program director. "We want exceptional, dedicated teacher-leaders who excel at collaborating with others, communicating and problem solving. In short, we're looking for educators driven to improve the educational landscape for all children within Dallas ISD."

According to Gooden, the program will expand to Houston ISD in summer 2011 and Harlandale ISD in 2012. In each satellite location, UTCULP staff will conduct a needs assessment, create curriculum tailored specifically to that district and "equip aspiring principals with information and skills that will help them thrive at an urban secondary school campus."

UTCULP will offer ongoing evaluation to ensure that the program and graduates are succeeding. Each district also will have a district site coordinator and five district mentors/coaches selected by the UTCULP to offer ongoing support.

Nominations for the Dallas ISD summer cohort are open. Interested educators can visit the Principalship Program for general information and to complete an electronic nomination form.  Nominations close Jan. 31.

The Principalship Program is part of the College of Education's Department of Educational Administration.