|dc.description.abstract||Improving schools and holding educators, schools, and school districts accountable for student performance are among the most important issues in education today. Proposals to reform and restructure schools have emphasized professional development as a key element. This increased emphasis on professional development has created a greater awareness of those components proven effective for professional development and facilitating systemic change in educational institutions (Guskey, 1994).
A best hope for effective school improvement in many of these areas may be effective job-embedded professional development to create a leadership pool that will drive the school improvement process. Until recently, leadership professional development activities in Alabama may have been classified as one of three main types: state sponsored, relatively long-term development academies; short-term (one to three days) workshops; or on-going, local leadership initiatives. The local leadership academy approach appears to offer a chance to not only engage participants in meaningful professional development but also opportunities to improve individuals and the level of institutional leadership by fostering communication among leaders in an institution and creating a culture that encourages growth, co-mentoring, and teamwork among the participants.
The purpose of this study was to look at administrators’ perceptions of three commonly used professional development programs in Alabama aimed at building leadership capacity in order to bring about school improvement. This research aimed to determine if professional development participants perceived the three types of professional development activity as useful for enhancing leadership capacity. Another purpose of the study was to assess the effectiveness of a local leadership academy in meeting its stated goals.
The local-level leadership academy was perceived to be most effective in affecting school leaders’ practices among those interviewed and among those surveyed. Although further research into various programs is needed to verify the findings from this study, the initial evaluation indicates that the local program is viewed as constructive by survey respondents. The survey results supported the interview results, although the survey results showed less difference between the types of professional development than the interviews. Yet, the theme that runs through the interviews about all three types of professional development studied is that adequate time, as in clock time spent on a subject and calendar time that the learning is spread across, is very important to learning new ideas and incorporating them into practice.||en_US