Study Guide

Building-Level Administrator
Sample Questions

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Competency 0001
Understand how to develop and implement a vision for the school to guide the learning of all students and promote continuous school improvement.

A school principal wants to expand the use of data to inform decisions related to the school's mission and vision, as well as to support schoolwide improvement efforts. Which of the following actions by the principal would be most effective in meeting this goal?

  1. distributing data from state assessments to teachers across grade levels and subject areas
  2. ensuring that summative assessment data is analyzed collaboratively by department-level teams
  3. establishing a school-based data team to monitor and evaluate improvement processes
  4. providing additional professional development opportunities for faculty focused on using data
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: C. Data-informed decision-making is a critical component of effective school improvement planning. A principal can support the use of data in decisions related to the school's mission, vision, and improvement plans and initiatives by establishing a standing data team within the school. By developing procedures for using student assessment data, climate survey results, and other school data to monitor and evaluate improvement processes, the team can ensure that data analysis is consistently included in decision-making processes.

Competency 0002
Understand how to ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum, recognize effective instructional practice, and coordinate the use of effective assessments.

2. A newly hired principal is preparing to assume leadership at a school where state assessment performance has been below state and district averages for the past several years. The principal and superintendent have set improving instruction at the school as a priority for the coming year. Which of the following actions will be most effective for the principal to implement first to achieve this goal?

  1. working with district staff to update and expand the school's instructional technology resources
  2. ensuring that all teachers have access to professional development opportunities focusing on current best practices in instruction
  3. conducting a staff survey to determine perceptions of current instructional needs
  4. facilitating collaboration with faculty to analyze student assessment data and develop instructional action plans based on analysis
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: D. In order to achieve improvements in student achievement at a school where performance on state assessments is consistently below average, teachers must be able to use assessment data to plan effective instruction and instructional interventions. The principal's first action should be to begin facilitating collaborative data analysis sessions with small groups of teachers—and to ensure that action plans for meaningful instructional improvements emerge from the sessions.

Competency 0003
Understand how to promote ongoing professional learning for school faculty and staff.

3. A new principal has assumed leadership at a school that has performed below the state averages on standardized assessments in recent years and experienced a high turnover rate among staff. In order to build the professional capacity of the faculty and improve retention rates, the principal expands professional development opportunities related to instructional and classroom management strategies. To support this effort and ensure that professional development at the school aligns with established principles of adult learning, it would be most appropriate for the principal to:

  1. allow teachers to opt out of professional development that they see as irrelevant or redundant.
  2. encourage teachers to ask frequent clarifying questions during professional development.
  3. focus classroom observations on instructional strategies covered in professional development.
  4. submit reviews of professional development and presenters to district curriculum leaders.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: C. Effective induction and professional development programming have been shown to improve teacher retention. In the scenario described above, the professional development opportunities that the principal is planning are clearly relevant to the needs of the school's teachers. The principal can best ensure that the planned professional development will build capacity, improve retention, and align with adult learning principles by using classroom observations to provide job-embedded follow-up on the topics covered by the development activities.

Competency 0004
Understand how to create and sustain a positive school culture and equitable learning environment that promote success for all students, including legal requirements related to school administration.

4. A newly hired principal works with the school's leadership team to evaluate the current school culture. They determine that the academic and social supports currently available are insufficient to meet the needs of all students. In order to address this concern, the principal's highest priority should be working collaboratively with teachers to:

  1. review research-based best practices for supporting students.
  2. establish clear and attainable targets for improving student supports.
  3. develop subject- and grade-specific programs for supporting students.
  4. analyze assessment data to identify students who are in need of support.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: B. A successful change process requires clearly defined, attainable targets towards the ultimate goals. By prioritizing the establishment of such targets early in the planning process—and involving the faculty in defining the targets—the principal ensures that planning to improve student supports includes indicators of measurable progress that, as they are attained, build support for the improvements.

Competency 0005
Understand how to implement operational systems, including policies and procedures for ensuring a safe, functional school environment.

5. A student suffers minor injuries from an incident in physical education class and is transported to a local hospital. After notifying the parents/guardians and speaking with hospital officials, the principal begins to investigate the incident. In this investigation, the principal should seek answers to which of the following questions first?

  1. How much time passed between the incident and the response from teachers and the school nurse?
  2. How did the actions of other students cause or contribute to the incident?
  3. Did the incident occur while students were engaged in an appropriate, standards-based activity?
  4. Was a teacher directly supervising and observing students at the time of the incident?
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: D. While all of the questions presented above are important, the principal first needs to determine if a teacher was present in the physical education class when the injury occurred, either directly supervising or observing the class. Whether or not a school staff member was supervising or observing students at the time of the incident is critical in determining liability for the student injury.

Competency 0006
Understand how to oversee personnel, including strategies for supervising, observing, and coaching teachers.

6. A principal is concerned about high rates of turnover among the school's faculty. Of particular concern is the high percentage of newly hired teachers who choose to leave the profession early in their careers. In response, the principal works with the school's leadership team to develop and implement a mentorship program for new teachers. Which of the following practices would be most important to include in the program?

  1. pairing new teachers with mentors who work in the same subject area
  2. providing regularly scheduled time for new teachers to collaborate with their mentors
  3. making incentives available to mentors in order to support their work
  4. ensuring that mentors and new teachers communicate concerns with building administration
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: B. Mentoring is an important component of effective induction programs, but mentoring requires administrative support to be effective. Importantly, school leaders must block out time in the master schedule for mentors and mentees to meet. Without scheduled meeting times, new teachers may not have meaningful opportunities to work together collaboratively with their mentors on the issues of practice that they encounter in their day-to-day work.

Competency 0007
Understand how to ensure equitable and strategic use of fiscal and non-fiscal school resources.

7. A high school principal is evaluating expenses related to school athletic programs. While the school's teams have been a source of pride for the community, the athletic budget will need to be reduced for the upcoming year due to reductions in funding. Which of the following considerations is most important when evaluating budget allocations within the athletic department?

  1. prioritizing the teams that have the highest levels of community support
  2. ensuring that boys and girls have equal opportunity to participate in team sports
  3. evaluating the postsecondary opportunities available to student athletes
  4. assessing levels of student interest and participation rates for individual sports
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: B. While budget reductions—an unfortunate reality for many schools and districts—are driven by shifting revenue levels, they must comply with local, state, and federal statutory requirements. In the scenario described above, reductions to the budget for school athletic programs must be planned so that they comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. Specifically, the reductions cannot impede the equal opportunity of students to participate in sports regardless of gender.

Competency 0008
Understand how to interact professionally and develop positive, supportive relationships with students and school staff.

8. A newly formed community theater group has approached the principal of a district school with an offer to perform for students. The group has pledged to do this at no cost and would use the school's auditorium. When evaluating the offer from the group, which of the following questions would be most important for the principal to consider?

  1. Would the theater presentation align with school priorities and support student success?
  2. Will students find the theater presentation interesting and engaging?
  3. Can the theater presentation fit into the school's master schedule?
  4. What learning activities should teachers conduct prior to the theater presentation?
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: A. School leaders often partner with community resources to provide meaningful support for student success and the realization of the school's mission and vision. Before partnering with a community-based organization, however, a principal is obligated to confirm that the organization's goals are aligned with the school's and support the success of all students. In the example of the community theater group, a performance that is intended to promote social-emotional learning would likely support the success of an elementary school's students.

Competency 0009
Understand how to interact professionally and build positive relationships with parents/guardians and other stakeholders in the community.

9. A principal recognizes the importance of family engagement and wants to take active steps to encourage greater involvement of parents/guardians in the school. Which of the following actions by the principal would be most effective in achieving this goal?

  1. distributing a weekly newsletter to parents/guardians detailing upcoming school events
  2. instructing teachers to document and record all phone or e-mail contacts with parents/guardians
  3. communicating frequently with parents/guardians regarding student behavior and academics
  4. involving parents/guardians in decision-making related to academic and behavior expectations
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: D. Research has demonstrated that the involvement of parents/guardians in their children's education yields extensive benefits related to student achievement, success, and well-being. While parent/guardian participation in school life is too often limited to volunteering at school events, a principal can increase meaningful involvement by involving parents/guardians in making individual and school-wide decisions related to academics and behavior.

Competency 0010
Understand how to continue personal professional growth, actively engage in reflective practice, and apply new knowledge and understanding to drive appropriate change.

10. A recently certified building-level administrator who is preparing to take a position as a principal is concerned about continuing to grow professionally while managing the demands of the position. Which of the following practices will best support the new principal's ongoing professional growth?

  1. reserving time each week for professional learning, including working with a mentor
  2. attending education conferences, especially conferences focused on leadership
  3. enrolling in courses on educational leadership at a local college or university
  4. completing online professional development modules on relevant topics
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: A. Continuing professional growth is important for all school administrators, but it is also challenging, particularly for newly certified administrators in their first leadership positions. Working with a mentor is a highly effective professional learning activity that can help new administrators grow in their leadership positions. In addition, blocking out time for professional learning can ensure that a new building-level administrator continues to grow amid potentially overwhelming work demands.