School Administration

In order for an educational institution to operate successfully it requires competent administrators. School administrators manage the day-to-day activities and provide instructional leadership in pre-schools, schools, day care centers, colleges and universities. The educational programs of businesses, correctional institutions, museums as well as job training and community service organizations are also directed by education administrators.

School administrators' responsibilities include setting educational standards and goals and establishing the policies and procedures required to achieve them. Administrators also supervise managers, support staff, teachers, counselors, coachers, librarians and other employees. Their job is to develop academic programs, monitor the educational progress of students, train and motivate teachers and other staff. They also manage career counseling and other student services, administer recordkeeping, prepare budgets and perform many other duties.

School administrators also handle relations with parents, current and prospective students, employers and the community. In a small organization, such as a small day care center, all these functions may be handled by one administrator. In universities or large school systems, there are many administrators, each with a specific function, that share the responsibilities.

School administrators in charge of elementary, middle and secondary schools are called principals. They work actively with teachers in order to develop and maintain high curriculum standards, establish performance goals and objectives and formulate mission statements. Principals hire and evaluate teachers and other staff and also confer with them to advise on, explain or answer procedural questions. They visit classrooms, observe teaching methods, examine learning materials and review instructional objectives. Their pay frequently is based on performance ratings.

Principals also meet with other administrators, students, parents and representatives of community organizations. Amid a shift in decision making authority from school district central offices to individual schools, principals have become more flexible in setting school policies and goals. However, when they make administrative decisions they need to pay attention to the concerns of teachers, parents and other members of the community. Principals' responsibilities also include the preparation of budgets and reports on various subjects, including finances, attendance and student performance.

During the summer months, principals plan the upcoming year, oversee summer school, participate in workshops for teachers and administrators, supervise building repairs and improvements and work to ensure the school has adequate staff for the next school year. Since schools are involved with students' emotional welfare in addition to their academic achievement, principals also have responsibilities outside of academics. They are responsible for before and after-school child care programs and family resource centers, which also may offer social service referrals and parenting classes, that have been established at some schools. Community organizations have helped some principals establish programs to combat growing crime, drug and alcohol abuse as well as sexually transmitted diseases among students.

Assistant principals help the principal in the overall administration of the school. Their primary responsibility is to schedule student classes and order textbooks and supplies. They also coordinate transportation, custodial, cafeteria and other support services. Assistant principals also usually handle student discipline and attendance problems, social and recreational programs and matters of health and safety.

In colleges and universities, provosts, also known as chief academic officers, are responsible for making faculty appointments and tenure decisions, developing budgets and establishing academic policies and programs. Academic deans and deans of faculty assist provosts in directing and coordinating the activities of deans of individual colleges and chairpersons of academic departments. The director of development's chief responsibility is fundraising.

College and university department heads or chairpersons are in charge of departments specializing in particular fields of study. In addition to teaching, their responsibilities include coordinating schedules of classes and teaching assignments, proposing budgets, recruiting, interviewing and hiring applicants for teaching positions. They also evaluate faculty members, encourage faculty development, serve on committees and perform other administrative duties.

Administrators in higher education also direct and coordinate the provision of student services. Admissions, foreign student services, health and counseling services, career services, financial aid and housing and residential life may be directed and coordinated by vice presidents of student affairs or student life, deans of students and directors of student services. Registrars are custodians of students' records. They are responsible for registering students, recording grades, preparing student transcripts, evaluating academic records, assessing and collecting tuition and fees, planning and implementing commencement exercises. Registrars also oversee the preparation of college catalogs and schedules of classes, as well as analyze enrollment and demographic statistics.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Art of School Leadership
Thomas R. Hoerr.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005
To Run a School: Administrative Organization and Learning
Christopher A. Simon.
Praeger, 2001
School Leadership That Works: From Research to Results
Robert J. Marzano; Timothy Waters; Brian A. McNulty.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005
Connecting Leadership with Learning: A Framework for Reflection, Planning, and Action
Michael A. Copland; Michael S. Knapp.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2006
Centering Educational Administration: Cultivating Meaning, Community, Responsibility
Robert J. Starratt.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003
Supportive Supervision in Schools
Raymond C. Garubo; Stanley William Rothstein.
Greenwood Press, 1998
Who Is Leading Our Schools? An Overview of School Administrators and Their Careers
Susan M. Gates; Jeanne S. Ringel; Lucrecia SantibaÑez; Karen E. Ross; Catherine H. Chung.
Rand, 2003
Outstanding School Administrators: Their Keys to Success
Frederick C. Wendel; Fred A. Hoke; Ronald G. Joekel.
Praeger, 1996
Managers of Virtue: Public School Leadership in America, 1820-1980
David Tyack; Elisabeth Hansot.
Basic Books, 1982
The Innovative School: Organization and Instruction
Shlomo Sharan; Hanna Shachar; Tamar Levine.
Bergin & Garvey, 1999
School Leadership in Times of Urban Reform
Marilyn Bizar; Rebecca Barr.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001
The Governance of Schooling: Comparative Studies of Devolved Management
Margaret A. Arnott; Charles D. Raab.
Routledge, 2000
Leadership for Educational Renewal: Developing a Cadre of Leaders
Wilma F. Smith; Gary D. Fenstermacher.
Jossey-Bass, 1999
Change and the School Administrator
Ediger, Marlow.
Education, Vol. 118, No. 4, Summer 1998
Learner-Centered Principalship: The Principal as Teacher of Teachers
William G. Webster.
Praeger Publishers, 1994
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