Southwestern Oklahoma State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 98-103
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Shortages of qualified school administrators have reached crisis proportions in the last several years. According to the latest U.S. projections, 82 percent of school superintendents already have reached retirement age (National School Board Journal, August 2008). Current average state projections indicate that retirements among school superintendents and principals will create a critical shortage in qualified candidates for these positions beginning in Spring 2009. These shortages are compounded in rural areas where access to quality educational administration preparation programs is severely restricted.

In answer to this pending crisis, two university faculty began to explore innovative ways to provide a quality Master of Education in Educational Administration Degree Program to prepare teachers to become effective school administrators. Two challenges were especially critical: 1) Time required for program completion and 2) Program accessibility. Flexibility, innovation, and technology would be needed to meet those challenges.

In addressing the challenge of “time,” feedback from active and prospective students indicated that students needed: 1) a master’s degree program that could be completed in less than the 6 to 8 semesters traditionally required; 2) classes offered on nights other than Monday and Thursday when many school activities occur; and 3) flexibility in summer course offerings. After researching a variety of program models, faculty developed a flexible accelerated educational administration program based on best instructional practices and feedback from students. Course offerings in Fall and Spring were moved to Wednesday nights when school activities were less likely to occur, length of each class meeting was doubled, and number of weeks each class met was cut in half to eight weeks in fall and spring and two weeks during the summer to enable quicker accumulation of hours. Internship was increased from a two-hour course to a three-hour, 16-week offering with rigorous course requirements and on-site clinical supervision. In addition, intersession courses that could be completed in an extended weekend were offered in August, January, and June. Students who take one or more intersessions move more quickly through the program.

The larger challenge of “accessibility” was addressed by teaching all classes through Distance Education (interactive video) to approved sites so that each student would have to travel no more than approximately 45 miles to class. Initially, each class had two or three distance sites in addition to the campus class but as the program quickly grew, the need for additional sites multiplied. The number of distance sites per class is limited to 8-10 as feasible in order to maintain instructional quality and manageability of distance technology.

As a result of innovation and technology, since its implementation in 2005 the new Educational Administration Master's Degree Program has experienced significant growth in enrollment with total advisees currently numbering over 200. Program completion data show that, from 2000 through 2004, an average of 19 Educational Administration students graduated each year. Average numbers of graduates annually from 2005 through 2009 is 82. Growth in program completers from 2000 represents an increase of over 1000 percent (1011%).
innovation, distance education, higher education, educational leadership, graduate.