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This paper reports on the current thinking about the position of principal and superintendent in America's schools. The positions of school principal and district superintendent have been undergoing changes in definition and scope over the last century and a half. As America undergoes significant societal transformation, the definition of these two positions has to evolve to meet the complex demands the country puts on its schools. The history of the development of the principalship and superintendency is given to provide context for the challenges aspiring education leaders will face in the new millennium. A noted systemic problem in higher education is the inability of many universities to provide adequate instruction relevant to today's leadership needs in education.Recommendations include leadership preparation programs being redesigned to reflect collaborative instructional leadership that works through transformational processes. Such programs must be organized around problems of practice and delivered in collaboration with practitioners. Developmental evaluation processes need to be contained to assess aspiring leaders based upon their level of development. Programs should have a critical mass of five to six faculty devoted to the preparation of new forms of leadership for the schools.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Educational Administration Quarterly, volume 38, issue 2, in 2002 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.1177/0013161X02382007.

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