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Smooth operation of an educational institution requires competent administrators. Education administrators provide direction, leadership, and day-to-day management of educational activities in schools, colleges and universities, businesses, correctional institutions, museums, and job training and community service organizations. (College presidents and school superintendents are covered in the Handbook statement on general managers and top executives.) Education administrators set educational standards and goals and aid in establishing the policies and procedures to carry them out. They develop academic programs; monitor students' educational progress; train and motivate teachers and other staff; manage guidance and other student services; administer recordkeeping; prepare budgets; handle relations with parents, prospective students, employers, and the community; and perform many other activities.
They also supervise managers, management support staff, teachers, counselors, librarians, coaches, and others. In an organization such as a small daycare center, there may be one administrator who handles all these functions. In universities or large school systems, responsibilities are divided among many administrators, each with a specific function.
Principals manage elementary and secondary schools. They set the academic tone and they hire teachers and other staff, help them improve their skills, and evaluate them. Principals confer with staffadvising, explaining, or answering procedural questions. They visit classrooms, observe teaching methods, review instructional objectives, and examine learning materials. They actively work with teachers to develop and maintain high curriculum standards, develop mission statements, and set performance goals and objectives. As pay-for-performance becomes an accepted standard for teachers, principals must ensure that they are using clear, objective guidelines for teacher appraisals.
Principals also meet and interact with other administrators, students, parents, and representatives of community organizations. As decision-making authority shifts from school district central offices to individual schools, parents, teachers, and other members of the community are playing an increasingly important role in setting school policies and goals. Principals must pay attention to the concerns of these groups when making administrative decisions.
Principals prepare budgets and reports on various subjects, including finances and attendance, and oversee the requisitioning and allocation of supplies. As school budgets become tighter, many principals are becoming more involved in public relations and fund raising in an effort to secure financial support for their schools from local businesses. Many principals take an active role in developing school/business partnerships and school-to-work transition programs for students.
In recent years, schools have become more involved with students' emotional welfare as well as their academic achievement. As a result, principals face new responsibilities. For example, in response to the growing number of dual-income and single-parent families and teenage parents, more schools have before- and after-school child- care programs or family resource centers, which also may offer parenting classes and social service referrals. With the help of community organizations, some principals have established programs to combat the increase in crime, drug and alcohol abuse, and sexually transmitted disease among students.
Assistant principals aid the principal in the overall administration of the school. Some assistant principals hold this position for several years to prepare for advancement to principal; others are career assistant principals. Depending on the number of students, the number of assistant principals a school employs may vary. They are responsible for programming student classes, ordering textbooks and supplies, and coordinating transportation, custodial, cafeteria, and other support services. They usually handle discipline, attendance, social and recreational programs, and health and safety. They also may counsel students on personal, educational, or vocational matters. As site-based management becomes more prevalent, assistant principals are playing a greater role in curriculum development, evaluating teachers, and school-community relations, responsibilities previously assumed solely by the principal.
Administrators in school district central offices manage public schools under their jurisdiction. This group includes those who direct subject area programs such as English, music, vocational education, special education, and mathematics. They plan, evaluate, standardize, and improve curriculums and teaching techniques, and help teachers improve their skills and learn about new methods and materials. They oversee career counseling programs, and testing which measures students' abilities and helps place them in appropriate classes. Central office administrators also include directors of programs such as guidance, school psychology, athletics, curriculum and instruction, and professional development. With the trend toward site-based management, principals and assistant principals, along with teachers and other staff, have primary responsibility for many of these programs in their individual schools.
In colleges and universities, academic deans, deans of faculty, provosts, and/or university deans assist presidents and develop budgets and academic policies and programs. They direct and coordinate activities of deans of individual colleges and chairpersons of academic departments.
College or university department heads or chairpersons are in charge of departments such as English, biological science, or mathematics. In addition to teaching, they coordinate schedules of classes and teaching assignments; propose budgets; recruit, interview, and hire applicants for teaching positions; evaluate faculty members; encourage faculty development; and perform other administrative duties. In overseeing their departments, chairpersons must consider and balance the concerns of faculty, administrators, and students.
Higher education administrators also provide student services. Vice presidents of student affairs or student life, deans of students, and directors of student services may direct and coordinate admissions, foreign student services, health and counseling services, career services, financial aid, and housing and residential life, as well as social, recreational, and related programs. In small colleges, they may counsel students. Registrars are custodians of students' education records. They register students, prepare student transcripts, evaluate academic records, oversee the preparation of college catalogs and schedules of classes, and analyze registration statistics. Directors of admissions manage the process of recruiting and admitting students, and work closely with financial aid directors, who oversee scholarship, fellowship, and loan programs. Registrars and admissions officers must adapt to technological innovations in student information systems such as touch-tone voice response, desk-top publishing, and presentation of informationcollege catalogs and schedules, for exampleon computer systems, including the Internet. Directors of student activities plan and arrange social, cultural and recreational activities, assist student-run organizations, and may orient new students. Athletic directors plan and direct intramural and intercollegiate athletic activities, including publicity for athletic events, preparation of budgets, and supervision of coaches.
Education administrators hold management positions with significant responsibility. Coordinating and interacting with faculty, parents, and students can be fast-paced and stimulating, but also stressful and demanding. Some jobs include travel. Principals and assistant principals whose main duty is often discipline may find working with difficult students frustrating, but challenging. The number of school-age children is rising, and some school systems have hired assistant principals when a school's population increased significantly. In other school systems, principals may manage larger student bodies, which can also be stressful.
Most education administrators work more than 40 hours a week, including many nights and weekends when they oversee school activities. Unlike teachers, they usually work year round.
Education administrators held about 393,000 jobs in 1994. About 9 out of 10 were in educational services—in elementary, secondary, and technical schools and colleges and universities. The rest worked in child daycare centers, religious organizations, job training centers, State departments of education, and businesses and other organizations that provide training activities for their employees.
Education administrator is not usually an entry-level job. Most education administrators begin their careers in related occupations, and prepare for a job in education administration by completing a master's or doctoral degree. Because of the diversity of duties and levels of responsibility, their educational backgrounds and experience vary considerably. Principals, assistant principals, central office administrators, and academic deans usually have taught or held another related job before moving into administration. Some teachers move directly into principalships; others first become assistant principals, or gain experience in other central office administrative jobs at either the school or district level in positions such as department head, curriculum specialist, or subject matter advisor. In some cases, administrators move up from related staff jobs such as recruiter, guidance counselor, librarian, residence hall director, or financial aid or admissions counselor. Earning a graduate degree generally improves one's advancement opportunities in education administration.
To be considered for education administrator positions, workers must first prove themselves in their current jobs. In evaluating candidates, supervisors look for determination, confidence, innovativeness, motivation, leadership, and managerial attributes, such as ability to make sound decisions and organize and coordinate work efficiently. Since much of an administrator's job involves interacting with others, from students to parents to teachers, they must have strong interpersonal skills and be effective communicators and motivators. Knowledge of management principles and practices, gained through work experience and formal education, is important.
In public schools, principals, assistant principals, and school administrators in central offices need a master's degree in education administration or educational supervision, and a State teaching certificate. Some principals and central office administrators have a doctorate or specialized degree in education administration. In private schools, which are not subject to State certification requirements, some principals and assistant principals hold only a bachelor's degree. However, the majority have a master's or doctoral degree. Licensing standards for principals are currently being developed and are expected to be in place by 1997. The Interstate Principals Licensure Consortium will be the licensing body.
Academic deans and chairpersons usually have a doctorate in their specialty. Most have held a professorship in their department before advancing. Admissions, student affairs, and financial aid directors and registrars sometimes start in related staff jobs with bachelor's degrees—any field usually is acceptable—and obtain advanced degrees in college student affairs or higher education administration. A Ph.D. or Ed.D. usually is necessary for top student affairs positions. Computer literacy and a background in mathematics or statistics may be assets in admissions, records, and financial work.
Advanced degrees in higher education administration, educational supervision, and college student affairs are offered in many colleges and universities. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education accredits programs. Education administration degree programs include courses in school management, school law, school finance and budgeting, curriculum development and evaluation, research design and data analysis, community relations, politics in education, counseling, and leadership. Educational supervision degree programs include courses in supervision of instruction and curriculum, human relations, curriculum development, research, and advanced pedagogy courses.
Education administrators advance by moving up an administrative ladder or transferring to larger schools or systems. They also may become superintendent of a school system or president of an educational institution.
Substantial competition is expected for prestigious jobs as education administrators. Many teachers and other staff meet the education and experience requirements for these jobs, and seek promotion. However, the number of openings is relatively small; only the most highly qualified are selected. Candidates who have the most formal education and who are willing to relocate should have the best job prospects.
Employment of education administrators is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2005. Most job openings, particularly for principals and assistant principals, are likely to result from the need to replace administrators who retire. Additional openings will be created by workers who transfer to other occupations.
Employment of education administrators will grow as more services are provided to students; as efforts to improve the quality of education continue; and as institutions comply with government regulations. As school enrollments increase, job opportunities for assistant principals will grow. Rather than opening new schools, many existing school populations will grow, spurring demand for assistant principals to help with the increased workload.
The number of education administrators employed depends largely on State and local expenditures for education. Budgetary constraints could result in fewer administrators than anticipated; pressures to increase spending to improve the quality of education could result in more.
Salaries of education administrators vary according to position, level of responsibility and experience, and the size and location of the institution. Generally, principals employed in public schools earn higher salaries than those in private schools.
Based on a salary survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, master's degree candidates in education administration received starting salary offers averaging $31,600 a year in 1995; doctoral degree candidates in education administration, $58,600.
According to a survey of public schools, conducted by the Educational Research Service, average salaries for principals and assistant principals in the 1994-95 school year were as follows:
Principals: Elementary school $58,600 Junior high/middle school 62,300 Senior high school 66,600 Assistant principals: Elementary school $48,500 Junior high/middle school 52,900 Senior high school 55,600In 1994-95, according to the College and University Personnel Association, median annual salaries for selected administrators in higher education were as follows:Academic deans: Medicine $199,500 Law 139,000 Engineering 100,900 Arts and sciences 79,200 Business 78,600 Education 77,700 Social sciences 58,600 Mathematics 56,900 Student services directors: Admissions and registrar $50,600 Student financial aid 43,400 Student activities 33,400
Education administrators apply organizational and leadership skills to provide services to individuals. Workers in related occupations include health services administrators, social service agency administrators, recreation and park managers, museum directors, library directors, and professional and membership organization executives. Since principals and assistant principals generally have extensive teaching experience, their backgrounds are similar to those of teachers and many school counselors.
For information on elementary and secondary school principals, assistant principals, and central office administrators, contact:
American Federation of School Administrators, 1729 21st St. NW., Washington, DC 20009.
American Association of School Administrators, 1801 North Moore St., Arlington, VA 22209
For information on elementary school principals and assistant principals, contact:
The National Association of Elementary School Principals, 1615 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314-3483.
For information on secondary school principals and assitant principals, contact:
The National Association of Secondary School Principals, 1904 Association Dr., Reston, VA 22091.
For information on college student affairs administrators, contact:
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, 1875 Connecticut Ave. NW., Suite 418, Washington, DC 20009-5728.
For information on collegiate registrars and admissions officers, contact:
American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, One Dupont Circle NW., Suite 330, Washington, DC 20036-1171.
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