Assessment Centers as Professional Development Models for School Leaders
As stated in the Texas Administrative Code (§19 TAC Chapter 241), practicing school administrators in Texas must have participated in an assessment center by September 1, 2004 (and once every five years after that date) for the purpose of professional development and in order to maintain the validity of their Standard Mid-management or Standard Principal certification. The purpose of this study was to determine if existing assessment center models for practicing school administrators influence the professional development of participants, and if so, how. The study explored each participant's perspectives on their experiences related to the following dimensions: personal history and individual perceptions regarding professional development; perceived effects of the components of individual center design features (self-assessment, reflection, assessee/assessor interaction, simulations, feedback and goal-setting processes, etc.); level of impact, if any, assessment center participation had on participants' subsequent professional development; perceived degree to which the center experience was consistent with the principles of adult learning found in adult education literature. A qualitative, multi-case study method was used with the objective of gathering cross-case comparisons about typical cases of administrators' perceptions of their professional development experiences through interaction with six principals before, immediately following, and six months after their participation in an assessment center. Data were collected and analyzed through the identification, coding, categorizing, classifying and labeling of patterns determined to be significant. Three themes emerged across the eighteen interviews conducted during the twelve month study: the unexpected degree of impact on the participants in one model, the importance of the role of the feedback specialist, and the significance of collaborative opportunities in respect to the perceived relevance of the learning experience. As a result of this study, it is recommended that the following suggestions be considered in order to further the effectiveness of assessment center models for purposes of professional development. Designing assessment centers that maintain the authenticity of simulations will require an almost constant re-evaluation of the knowledge and skills required for the principalship. School districts should offer principals follow up support for implementation of the professional development plans created in assessment centers, and assessment center providers should offer school district personnel training in effective coaching or facilitation skills to promote professional growth. Assessment center providers should focus on the role of the feedback specialist as critical to the impact of the assessment center process on participants' professional development.
laboratory schools, school administrators
Pankonien, L. (2005). Assessment centers as professional development models for school leaders (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.