Book by Teresa N. Miller, Mary E. Devin, and Robert J. Shoop
Review by Kathleen Carpenter
Northern Arizona University
College of Education

This book was written for those of us who work within university College of Education settings and those who work as leaders within K-12 public school systems. The intent is to educate practicing public school administrators and university faculty and staff about the continuing and growing gap between the theory taught in university leadership preparation programs and the harsh reality of what new K-12 leaders encounter within public schools. The authors include experienced educators who taught in, administered and provided legal advice for public schools; they all are currently employed as faculty at the university level. They offer a fresh and sincere perspective on instituting collaborative training and partnership models to prepare emerging educational leaders for public schools careers.  

A case study based on real-life events is the focal point of the text. The authors bring together a university professor, a public school district leader, a public school building leader, and a leader-in-training to develop a case for collaboration between the institutions that train leaders and the schools that eventually hire them. In the words of the authors, “a new model for preparing school leaders must bring theory and practice together in new and viable ways” (p. 45).  To do this, the authors suggest using the Professional Development School (PDS) model found in many teacher education programs, to create their model for training K-12 public school leaders.  This model, used at my own institution, offers university students as much hands-on experience as needed to prepare for the rigors of leadership positions held within public schools. The authors do a nice job building up to the case study, the Professional Administrative Leadership Academy (PALA), and incorporate various subtopics that emerging leaders should address before starting a leadership position.  

There is also a substantial section of resources found at the end of the book, which includes topics such as assessment tools, brochures for starting a professional development leadership program, and portfolio evaluation. The book is written more for the faculty advisor, public school administrator, and graduate student in a leadership program than for the undergraduate advisor. However, because I advise pre-service teachers, many of whom go on to leadership positions, I found the information relevant and transferable to my own advising experience. For example, Chapter Five, Redesigning Curriculum to Match New Realities (p. 57) and Chapter Six, Developing Ethical Leaders (p.71) are current hot topics at my university.  

It is also easy to relate to some of the quotes sprinkled throughout the text like, “I don’t think universities ever prepared me. I think that what prepared me were all the different jobs that I had” (p. 11).  I hear this from my students when they enter the teaching profession.  The book is especially useful for anyone who advises pre-service teacher education candidates and for those who advise in graduate educational leadership programs.

Closing the leadership gap: How districts and university partnerships shape effective school leaders (2007). Book by Teresa N. Miller, Mary E. Devin, and Robert J. Shoop. Review by Kathleen Carpenter. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 176 pp. $27.95 (paperback). ISBN 9781412936750
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