Kathryn Moyle reports on an evaluation of a professional learning program for aspiring school principals in Indonesia.
School systems around the world are supporting professional learning initiatives that improve the quality of students’ learning outcomes. In Indonesia, the Ministry of Education and Culture has identified the importance of exemplary school principals in high-performing school systems and major strategies for systematic educational reform. Those strategies include improvements in the processes used to select principals; a development program for high potential school leaders; the systematic appraisal of principal performance; and the provision of ongoing professional development of principals.
Since 2010, principal preparation, licensing, recruitment and performance appraisal are controlled by ministerial regulation. This regulation includes the requirement that aspirants complete the Principal Preparation Program and receive a licence number, before becoming a principal.
Preparing Indonesia’s new principals
According to the World Bank, the Indonesian national education system is the third largest education system in the Asian region and the fourth largest education system in the world, with more than 50 million students and more than three million teachers in more than 220 000 schools, located in some 500 districts.
To evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and impact of the Principal Preparation Program, the Indonesian Government in 2014 and 2015 has worked with an international team led by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to evaluate principal preparation initiatives in Indonesia.
The evaluation, funded through the Analytical and Capacity Development Partnership, a facility established by the governments of Indonesia, Australia and the European Union, with the Asian Development Bank, was conducted across 31 districts in 14 provinces of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Nusa Tenggara, Bali, Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua.
Principal professional learning
The Principal Preparation Program involves in-service and on-the-job professional learning that shares similarities with professional learning approaches in countries such as China, Hong Kong, Canada and Scotland in Great Britain. The Indonesian Principal Preparation Program comprises:
- an initial seven-day program of in-service face-to-face professional learning, equivalent to 70 learning hours;
- a three-month program of on-the job workplace learning, equivalent to 200 learning hours; and
- a subsequent three-day program of in-service face-to-face professional learning, equivalent to 30 learning hours.
Previous evaluations of other principal preparation programs show the importance of addressing both the curriculum or pedagogical leadership role and the administration or management roles of school principals. Principal preparation programs also have to support aspiring principals to develop their leadership skills so that their future school communities recognise them as educational leaders.
Indicators of successful principal preparation
Nine indicators identify successful principal preparation programs generally speaking, all of which have informed the evaluation of the Indonesian principal preparation program in particular.
- The purpose of the professional learning program is explicit, and focuses on the education of teachers aspiring to be school leaders. The goals of the program reflect the demands made of future school leaders, schools, and students; and the definition of success is tied to student learning in the schools administered by the graduates of the professional learning program. The purposeof the program is supported by policies and administrative guidelines.
- The content of the professional learning program is documented and matches its purposes and goals. The coherence of the program is obvious to the participants in the program. The content is rigorous, logical, coherent and organised to teach the skills and knowledge required by principals at specific types of schools.
- The content of the professional learning program integrates the theory and practice of leadership and administration with the realities of the daily work of principals in schools.
- The facilitators employed in the professional learning program include academics and practitioners who are expert in school leadership, up-to-date in their field and productive in terms of undertaking and publishing research on principals’ professional learning.
- Admission criteria used to select participants into the professional learning program are designed to recruit aspiring principals who have the capacity and motivation to become successful school principals.
- School-based research and professional learning are carried out in the program so that aspiring school principals can learn how to lead research and staff development that can be used to inform future practice within their schools.
- The financial resources allocated to the delivery of the program include the funding of additional teachers to allow participants to give the program their undivided attention.
- The professional learning program engages the participants in continuing assessment, including self-assessment and improvement in both the off-the-job and on the-job professional learning components.
The program itself is subject to regular review and evaluation that is based on feedback from participants, facilitators and policymakers to ensure the program is of high quality, driven by practice, cost effective, and relevant and useful to both practitioners and policymakers.
Evaluation of principal professional learning
The evaluation has found that the Principal Preparation Program is both relevant and useful to the participating aspiring principals and their immediate supervisors. They report that the program improves school leadership and administration skills.
Since principal effectiveness is fundamental for high-performing schools, the effective preparation of school principals is crucial, and effective preparation depends on high-quality professional learning for aspirants and ongoing professional learning for incumbent school principals. ■