Star Administrator Pre-screener

This Pre-screener is made up of 104 questions of which you will be given two possible answers. You must select the best possible answer and go to the next question. After you have gone to the next question you will not be able to change your answer. At the end of the pre-screenere you will be able to see how well you did in each of the thirteen dimensions.

Uses of This Instrument

This pre-screener predicts which candidates will succeed as school principals serving diverse children and youth in urban poverty in major urban school districts. It analyzes respondents’ answers to thirteen dimensions of urban school administration. These dimensions were identified in our studies of star urban principals who led effective schools in major urban districts or who turned failing schools into effective ones.

The items represent star administrators’ behaviors and predispositions to act. These actions reflect an ideology regarding the respondents’ beliefs about the nature of effective schooling for diverse children and youth in urban poverty and the nature of school leadership necessary to create such schools.

This pre-screener may be used with experienced individuals who are currently principals or with neophytes who are aspiring principals. It is applicable to individuals who have completed state certification requirements to become principals, or individuals from other careers without formal training in teaching or school administration who are seeking to pursue an alternative route to the principalship.

Those typically using this pre-screener are 1) urban school districts seeking to hire new principals, 2) urban school districts seeking to identify effective leaders for failing schools that serve diverse children and youth in poverty and 3) urban school districts seeking to select individuals for training programs to become principals. Researchers and doctoral students use the screener as a pre and post test in studies assessing the power of various training programs and other treatments intended to change or develop urban administrators.

The Predictive Profile

Respondents’ replies are analyzed in terms of the thirteen functions necessary for effective leadership in urban schools. Respondents’ answers are compared to those of outstanding urban school principals. The respondent’s profile provides ratings of High, Acceptable and Low on each function. Low indicates a danger zone where the responses red flag an area of weakness and likely failure by the respondent in performing that function. In addition to the respondent’s profile an overall score comparing the respondent to all others who have taken the test is provided.

Dimensions of Effective Urban School Leadership Assessed by the PRE-SCREENER

  1. I. Sensitive to Diversity / Insensitive to Diversity Does the respondent understand the pervasive importance of race, ethnicity, class and gender in the process of interacting with all the constituencies involved in the school community, or does the respondent assume that these differences will not affect his/her leadership? This dimension predicts the respondent’s ability to be perceived as fair and equitable in an urban school serving diverse children, parents and community in poverty.
  2. II. Creates a Common Vision / Fosters Personal Preferences Does the respondent have a strong and persisting commitment to creating a common set of goals and objectives for all school staff , or does s/he believe that it is best for each staff member to decide school goals and best practice for him/herself? This dimension predicts the likelihood that the respondent will create the effective work teams and cooperative activities needed for the school to succeed, or simply seek to make individuals happy by following their preferences.
  3. III. Develops Positive Working Climate / Enforces Rules Does the respondent appreciate that the leader’s role involves dealing with a complex set of interpersonal relationships, or does s/he see the leader as the final authority in enforcing rules? This dimension predicts the respondent’s potential for creating a positive working climate, or having the school function as a depersonalized bureaucracy.
  4. IV. Instructional Leader / Building Manager Does the respondent place a high priority on the leader’s role in improving teachers’ instructional effectiveness, or does s/he see the leader’s role in controlling and maintaining the building as his/her highest priority? This dimension predicts whether the respondent will function as the school’s leading educator, or as the overseer of the school organization and the physical facility.
  5. V. Data Driven / Idiosyncratic Does the respondent use data as the primary basis for setting school policies and procedures or does s/he use school traditions, personal charisma or pleasing staff as the basis for instituting school policies and practices? This dimension predicts the ability of the respondent to increase the effectiveness of the school in achievement, attendance, suspensions and in other critical areas where the data is readily available. Questions 89-96.
  6. VI. Product Evaluation / Process Evaluation Does the respondent focus on results as the fundamental criterion of success, or does s/he believe that procedures followed can be used as the criterion of success? This dimension predicts whether the respondent will maintain a focus on improved learning as the ultimate value to be preserved, or whether the programs in his/her school will be evaluated on the basis of procedures followed and how the programs are implemented.
  7. VII. Personal Accountability / Others Accountability Does the respondent understand and accept the need for the school principal to bear personal accountability for student learning and other measures of school success, or does s/he believe it is the role of the principal to ensure that only others are held accountable for various aspects of the school’s program? This dimension predicts the respondent’s willingness to hold him/herself accountable for people and processes which s/he cannot completely control.
  8. VIII. Responsible Leader / Delegator Does the respondent understand the leader’s role to be primarily one in which s/he will be the responsible authority for performing major functions, or does s/he believe that the leader’s role is primarily one of delegating as much as possible to others and overseeing their work? This dimension predicts not only the respondent’s leadership style but the degree to which s/he perceives the school leader as directly and personally responsible.
  9. IX. Expanded Principal’s Role / Traditional Principal’s Role Does the respondent understand that the effective urban school principal is the leader of a community based, non-profit organization, does s/he see the role of principal as limited to his/her role and status in the urban school district bureaucracy? This dimension predicts the respondent’s propensity to connect the school with the resources needed to serve diverse children in urban poverty, or to be limited to only the district’s budget, personnel and resources.
  10. X. Bottom-up Representative / Top-down Representative Does the respondent perceive his/her role as primarily representing the needs of the school upward to superiors, or does s/he interpret the role of the principal as primarily representing the mandates and policies of the system downward to the staff? This dimension predicts whether the respondent will protect and enhance effective practices in his/her school or simply follow orders.
  11. XI. Parents with Voice / Parents as Helpers Does the respondent understand the need for parents, caregivers and community to be involved in the life of the school as participants with voice, input and even power, or does s/he see the value of these constituencies as essentially supporters of the school program? This dimension predicts the likelihood that the respondent will seek to involve parents and community as genuine partners, or limit them to homework helpers and visitors.
  12. XII. Client Advocate / Staff Advocate Does the respondent understand the principal’s role as an advocate of children, parents and community, or does s/he see the “good” principal as one who only supports teachers and staff in problem and conflict situations? This dimension predicts the respondent’s ability to implement the school’s commitment to serve diverse students and families in poverty and simultaneously represent the professional staff.
  13. XIII. Problem Solver / Reactor Does the respondent perceive the role of school leader to be primarily one of active involvement in problem solving, or does s/he see the principal as the legal authority making final decisions from options presented to him/her? This dimension predicts whether the respondent will be a dynamic, creative leader, or whether s/he will passively wait for problems and solutions to be presented to him/her.