Program Structure

Program Structure

SPA enrolls two cohorts and over 100 graduate students each year in a rigorous 14 month, 36-credit program. Cohorts meet Monday-Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm and occasional weekends in an intensive five-week session for two consecutive summers. The 450-hour Administrative Internship takes place during the intervening school year, thereby enabling students to complete internship requirements while maintaining their positions at their schools. Our schedule supports the reality of aspiring leaders who are working teachers, team leaders, department chairs, and/or supervisors seeking the benefits of a competitive program without the disruption of time away from their school communities and students.


For full descriptions of our courses, please see the courses section of our website.

Summer I

ORLA 4001: Introduction to School Leadership and Decision Making (3 Credits)
ORLA 5018: School Leadership for Adult Development (3 Credits)
ORLA 5029: Supervision of Teaching and Learning (3 Credits)
ORLA 5340: Restorative Practices in Conflict Resolution (3 Credits)

ORLA 6020: Professional Seminar: SAT and Social Emotional Leadership (3 Credits ea, 2 Summer Course)

Fall and Spring Semesters

ORLA 5532: Program Development: Teaching, Learning and Assessment (Continuation of ORLA 5029, Summer I)
ORLA 6460: Internship in School Leadership (6 Credits, 450 Hours)

Summer II

ORLA 4033: Ethical and Legal Issues in Education Leadership (3 Credits)
ORLA 4025: Resource Allocation for Student Achievement (3 Credits)
ORLA 5025: Ecology of Data-Driven Leadership (3 Credits)
ORLA 5017: Team Building (3 Credits)
ORLA 6020 Summer II: Professional Seminar: Equity, Leadership and Social Justice as Leadership Imperatives

Administrative Internship

The internship in public school leadership presents an opportunity to become immersed in leadership practice and appreciate the importance of instructional leadership in creating a learning environment. The internship combines opportunities to study effective leadership firsthand, develop and practice instructional leadership skills, and be mentored for a career as a school principal. The internship requires a minimum of six months (12-15 hours per week) of supervised fieldwork in a public school setting.

The Data-Driven Audit is designed to give candidates an opportunity to analyze the various components that comprise a successful school. Candidates learn to conduct internal and external audits, and use the data collected to evaluate the school’s ability to drive student achievement. Candidates must examine three years of data to identify successful practices and make recommendations for improvement.

Utilizing the internal and external scanning methods, students conduct a data-driven audit of a school.

  • Assess three years of historical data that track a variety of school indicators;
  • Summarize, analyze, and present evidence in a comprehensive report;
  • Make recommendations for school improvement based on data collection and analysis

This project is a baseline data collection initiative. The results of this work should be threaded throughout all future assignments in meaningful and reflective ways and appear as an appendix in other internship assignments. Students will begin with an assessment of the state and region, and center in on the community and then the school environment. Their analysis of school data connects their external audit to all sections of their internal school audit.

At the conclusion of the Data-Driven Audit, students will write a one-page memorandum describing their work for the Leadership Initiative Project as related to the data collected.

In the MOA, the intern, cooperating administrator, and Internship Coach outline the content and timeline for the major Administrative Internship deliverables. The MOA ensures that the internship projects are aligned with the SPA curriculum and NELP Standards. The assignment also provides an early opportunity for outlining the Leadership Initiative Project and should include this completed document.

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is a living document that provides the vision for the Internship. A signature page is required from your coach and cooperating administrator to authorize the beginning of your internship.

The Principal Interview Report enables interns to experience various leadership styles that exist within a school setting. The assignment provides an environmental context for understanding the challenges and opportunities that a principal is likely to face as a leader. Engaging in the observation of three school building leaders helps interns develop a sense of their own leadership style and the kind of school environment most likely to fit well with their approaches to leadership. Writing in this assignment highlights the role of the principal to communicate the school’s vision and mission for educators in the community and other school stakeholders as well as value priorities that include equity, diversity, digital citizenship, and community. Candidates will demonstrate capacity to evaluate, develop, and implement systems of supervision, support, and evaluation designed to promote school improvement and student success.

The Teacher Evaluation Project provides interns with an opportunity to practice the supervision of instruction with a specific emphasis on developing and applying classroom observation skills. This project enables interns to provide constructive feedback to teachers about student learning, teaching, and learner-centered classrooms. Drawing from their experiences in ORLA 5018: School Leadership & Adult Development and ORLA 5029: Instruction of Supervision, interns conduct three clinical observation cycles on a single tenured teacher using the Louisiana COMPASS rubric. The Teacher Evaluation Project is designed to support interns’ acquisition of the skills needed to provide meaningful recommendations and commendations that will promote student achievement. Additionally, students will highlight the capacity to evaluate, develop, and implement high-quality and equitable academic and non-academic instructional practices, resources, technologies, and services that support equity, digital literacy, and the school’s academic and non-academic systems.

The Curriculum Case Study Project prepares candidates to develop instructional leadership skills in terms of curriculum and instruction. After conducting a series of informal and formal classroom observations, interns approach the task of designing a proposed action plan that addresses curricular/instructional areas that are in need of improvement from the point of view of the building administrator. The project also engages interns as leaders of digital technologies that can be better leveraged by teachers and administrators to improve instruction, student learning outcomes, teacher professional learning, and school improvement. Finally, the project provides deep reflective opportunities for interns to consider the moral and ethical implications of their advocacy decision-making as instructional leaders in and outside the school building. Engaging in these practices enables interns to develop the capacity for instructional leadership, while simultaneously fortifying observation, research, analysis, synthesis, reflection and presentation skills.

The Resource Allocation Project prepares candidates to develop the skills needed to exercise control of the budgeting of a variety of resources inclusive of curriculum, human, and financial resources as they step into leadership positions. After carefully considering a case study of Belle Plain Middle School, candidates are expected to conduct a SWOT analysis and generate a reflective plan of action. This project prepares candidates for their work in resource allocation during their second summer, and generates the mindset for improving resource allocations in order to leverage student achievement.

In consultation with their Internship Coaches and Cooperating Administrators, interns will assume a major leadership initiative that is aimed at increasing student achievement. Interns will outline a project for a predetermined period as agreed upon by the Internship Coach and Cooperating Administrator that includes the following elements: Fall (a) Conduct a Needs Assessment; (b) Submit a Proposal; Spring (c) Implementation Protocol Explained; (d) Data Collection & Analysis; (e) Final Evaluation of Initiative (f) Recommendations for Improvement/Termination.

At the conclusion of the Administrative Internship, interns are expected to submit a 9-12 page reflection paper that details their experiences. This analytic paper requires interns to stand back from the internship experience and think about the various ways that leadership impacts a school community.

Timelogs are the official record of the required Administrative Internship Hours, and must detail the intern’s progress weekly on identified deliverables and leadership activities. Interns are required to submit their timelogs accounting weekly totalling 10-15 hours per week over the course of 40 weeks. All logs must be submitted by the end of the spring semester.

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