The Role of Leadership in Obtaining International Accreditation of Educator Preparation Providers (CAEP Requirements)
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Leadership is conceptualized in various ways. In general, however, leadership is defined as a transaction between leaders and followers. In 2016, the College of Education at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) successfully obtained international accreditation by the U.S. National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), which is now known as the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This achievement was recognized nationally by policymakers and was commended internationally by education experts. In fact, the journey toward international accreditation was so challenging that without the contribution of sustained leadership it could not have been completed. The college leadership contributed considerably and played an inspirational role to achieve that goal.
In the early stages of the process, the college leadership conducted a thorough needs assessment in which opportunities, assets, and risks were identified before a decision regarding seeking international accreditation was made. Given that national accreditation was established recently in Oman, the college leaders focused on communicating the vision and mission clearly to the college faculty and administrative staff as well as students. This was followed by leading change within the institution through a careful inspection of the resources that could be deployed and the incentives that could successfully promote the new accreditation culture and build positive attitudes. Through forming teams of leaders within the institution as part of the distributed leadership, the college was able to set up an action plan in which various gaps could be covered.
The college leadership adopted different approaches to lead the college, its faculty, staff, and students toward the attainment of the international accreditation. A combination of distributed, transactional, and transformational leadership approaches was used by the college leadership in order to pursue and accomplish accreditation. The college relied on the academic accreditation steering committee (AASC) as a form of distributed leadership. The AASC included faculty members with experience in academic accreditation and assessment and represented focal points for other faculty members. The college leadership restructured the roles and responsibilities of the Heads of Departments (HoDs) as a form of transactional leadership in order to embed accreditation work within the normal flow of operations.
The college provided constant feedback on performance, adhered to equity and equality principles, considered personal differences among staff and students, and responded to their diverse needs. As a form of transformational leadership, the college worked on creating the culture for accreditation, stimulating innovation and creativity, encouraging scholarship and research activities, and sharing potential risks. The college sought to build a community of practice by creating a positive collegial atmosphere for teamwork and capacity building. The adoption of a combination of successful leadership styles helped the college to overcome the potential ambiguity and conflict between academic duties of faculty and the demanding tasks of accreditation. Additionally, it helped faculty members, staff, and students to change from being passive observers to positive players.
Furthermore, the effective leadership was the means by which the college faced the resistance that some faculty members showed initially. Such resistance was met with various management strategies, such as stressing the shared aims and values within the institution, fostering a collaborative and supportive environment, respecting the cultural and contextual values, encouraging faculty to participate in decision-making, instilling trustworthiness and integrity, and acting as role models. In short, it can be said that the achievement of international accreditation, though a tough journey, was possible only because the college leaders thought it could be realized and worked for it.