School of Education associate professor Joanne Marshall and assistant professors Douglas Wieczorek , Jason Salisbury, and Daniel Spikes will present their research at the 29th annual University Council for Educational Administration convention, Nov. 20 to 23 in San Diego. Photo by Ryan Riley.

Iowa State shares school leadership expertise at national convention

Iowa State University faculty members will share their expertise in school leadership — including a study of the increasingly popular “self-paced instruction” as the education world shifts from the classroom to the Internet — at a national convention in San Diego this week.

School of Education associate professor Joanne Marshall and assistant professors Jason Salisbury, Daniel Spikes, and Douglas Wieczorek will attend the 29th annual University Council for Educational Administration convention, Nov. 20 to 23 in San Diego.

The University Council for Educational Administration is a national consortium of more than 100 universities dedicated to preparing school leaders. It is considered the field’s leading professional organization. Iowa State’s membership in the council since 1999 recognizes the quality of its educational administration program and faculty.  

Effectiveness of self-paced instruction

“Self-paced instruction” is becoming increasingly popular as K-12 schools shift from the classroom to the Internet. Lessons proceed from one topic or segment to the next based on the student’s speed in learning them.

Wieczorek will present initial research findings on schools' use of self-paced learning in mathematics using one-to-one tablet computer technology. His study investigates how leaders, teachers, and students implement and engage with this new teaching and learning strategy.

“While there is considerable excitement in education about the potential of self-paced instruction, we know very little empirically about its effectiveness,” Wieczorek said, “or how teachers negotiate changing their practices to self-paced methods, how leaders build capacity for this type of instructional approach, and students' experiences in self-paced classrooms.”

Wieczorek said his study is producing rich data on how schools implement changes for school improvement using technology. Manuel Del-Real, a doctoral candidate in higher education, and undergraduate honors student Kaitlin Peterson are co-authors of the research and paper presentation.

The changes come as schools infuse the Iowa Core Standards, the state’s academic standards for what students should know and be able to do, and adjust performance expectations for students.

They also come as schools experiment with more rigorous methods for ongoing assessment of student learning. At the convention, Salisbury will present a paper with Peter Goff and Mark Blitz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison aimed at developing and testing a matrix to help researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners decide between the multitude of commercially available school leadership assessment tools.

Advancing racial equity in schools

Additional research being presented by Iowa State will address issues of social justice — such as equity for students of color, and how to bring greater awareness to “invisible” children and youth.

“Essentially, schools were created by white, middle-class males so they represent that culture,” Salisbury said. “What is missing is the ability to serve students who don’t fit into that category, specifically students of color. It’s incumbent upon schools to make shifts in the way they’re operating so they’re better able to serve students of color.”

Salisbury will present a paper looking at the ways that school leaders shift building-wide instructional practices to be more culturally relevant and supportive of students of color. He and Spikes will also share research investigating the history and motivations behind an initiative designed to provide students of color opportunities to engage in meaning leadership activities intended to create a more culturally responsive school district.

Spikes will present a case study on how school district leaders address racial disparities and advance equity in an urban school district in the Midwest. Data by the National Center for Education Statistics indicate that students of color would constitute the majority of students enrolled in the nation’s K-12 public schools by 2014.

“This is alarming because these are the very students who have not often been historically served well by our educational system,” the paper by Spikes states. “Indeed, the literature suggests that students of color face a multitude of challenges in our public schools.”

Research shows that black and Latino students often lack access to high quality teachers and are still disproportionately overrepresented in low-track classes while most white students are placed in high-track classes. Students of color are also overrepresented in the number of students who are suspended or expelled.

Preliminary findings by Spikes reveal that cultural proficiency training can help school districts to maintain a focus on equity, reorient the organization, transform the district culture, and heighten the racial and cultural awareness of the organization’s leaders.

“As school districts grapple with increasing accountability mandates and addressing racial disparities in academic achievement and attainment, it is worth noting that school district leaders can and do play a large role in school improvement,” the paper by Spikes states. “This study provides school districts with valuable information on how they can assist schools in creating equality of educational opportunity for all students.”

Spikes is also an invited panelist in a session about how to better incorporate “invisible children and youth” — such as those affected by homelessness, trafficking, and juvenile justice — into mainstream educational research, theory, and practice. He will serve as chair of a session about the diverse experiences of becoming educational leaders.

In addition, Spikes will join Salisbury in presenting a session about the ability of student leaders to support ninth graders as they enter high school. The study brings to light the moral commitment that students of color possess in improving educational practices in their schools.

New educational leadership standards

The University Council for Educational Administration convention includes a plenum session, or meeting of representatives from each institution. Marshall, the School of Education’s program coordinator for educational administration, will represent Iowa State.

On the agenda is discussing the newly refreshed educational leadership standards, which will help guide our program as well as all other preparation programs,” Marshall said. “If these standards are adopted nationally, we’ll work with the Iowa Department of Education to incorporate them into the Iowa Administrative Code and into our work with school leaders.”

Marshall will chair and facilitate two sessions at the convention: one on work-life balance and spirituality, and one on coordinating educational administration programs.

She’ll also present a case study developed with Tyson Marsh of the University of New Mexico on the intersectionality of religion, gender, and race. The research will be published within the next year as part of a special issue in The Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership and follows up on a book published this year, “Leadership for Increasingly Diverse Schools.”

Marshall will attend two board meetings at the conference — one for Educational Administration Quarterly and another for the Journal of Research on Leadership Education — because she serves as an editorial board member for the two premier educational journals.

Fluid nature of educational leaders, students

Based at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, the University Council for Educational Administration aims to advance the preparation and practice of educational leaders for the benefit of schools and children.

The convention theme, “Re-imagining the frontiers of education: Leadership with/in transnational and transcultural spaces,” highlights this year’s convention location near the California-Mexico border.

“Transnational” spaces reflect the interconnected external dimensions that traverse social, geographic, economic, and political borders. “Transcultural” spaces comprise the internal connections among race, ethnicity, gender, religion, language, ability, and sexual orientation.

The theme aims to draw attention to the border spaces that exist within the educational administration field, between both scholars and practitioners and among communities present in and around schools.

“Collectively, we can identify new ways to engage in research and dialogue and to recognize the strength of the multiple — often disparate — voices contributing to the future of education,” the convention website states. “Our focus on transnational and transcultural spaces emphasizes the fluid nature of leadership and the multiple identities that shape leaders and the populations they serve.”

Those attending the convention are encouraged to use the convention hashtag #UCEA15 in social media posts.