Teaching jobs are increasingly demanding, and the educational leadership degrees in greatest demand are a perfect example of how those demands are transforming the broader profession. While educational leadership itself remains in high demand, some degrees have emerged as more rigorous, relevant, and popular than others. Before selecting any degree program in this area, today’s educators should consider the type of leadership they wish to provide and the type of leadership that is most in demand by their school district and state education authority.
Educational Policy: An Area of Exciting New Investment
Without a doubt, the most popular educational leadership degree is one in educational policy. Over the past 15 years, school districts have been responsible for implementing a series of complex federal mandates that have changed the nature of teacher accountability, student performance and assessment, diagnostics, and even textbook selection. Many districts simply lack the professional expertise needed to properly implement new initiatives and align district policies with state and federal recommendations. That’s where the degree in educational policy comes in.
Offered at the graduate level, this program appeals to teachers who already have a sense of what it means to teach standards, select textbooks, and develop curriculum according to external guidelines. They’ll learn how to interpret ongoing changes to education policy, align the district with those changes, and communicate those changes with parents, teachers, and administrators.
School and District Administration
Another popular avenue for teachers interested in educational leadership involves learning how to operate a school or an entire district. Degrees in these areas typically start at the graduate level and then require either professional certification or doctoral study. Students who wish to work as principals can opt for the professional certification in school administration, while aspiring school superintendents traditionally continue to a doctoral program in school leadership and administration.
Both career paths result in a significant boost in long-term compensation (please see: What is the Average Salary for Someone With an Educational Leadership Degree?), hands-on responsibility, and interaction with state education authorities. As part of this program, existing teachers will learn how to manage groups of teachers, work alongside policy experts to keep their schools compliant with changing policies, and handle the social and disciplinary problems most common in today’s schools.
Finally, another popular program for today’s teachers is one in educational advocacy. This is a rather new field, but it combines a thorough understanding of educational policy with a passion for advocating on behalf of students, parents, and disadvantaged groups. Teachers will learn about the nature and structure of educational regulations and public education departments. They will learn how to best reach out to struggling groups, including impoverished and learning challenged students. With this knowledge, they’ll be taught how to advocate for these students and to help districts change old policies in order to accommodate modern challenges, standards, and demographic groups.
Education advocates are most prevalent in rural and urban school districts, where students typically suffer from greater levels of poverty and higher barriers to effective learning. Through their work alongside administrators and policy experts, they’ll try to narrow gaps between students of various socioeconomic backgrounds and strive for uniform achievement among all student groups.
Excellent Opportunities for Teachers with a Leadership Mindset
Educational leadership degrees have exploded in popularity as new education policies have pushed school districts to achieve better test scores, better rates of student engagement, and high scores on student assessments. The educational leadership degrees in greatest demand are designed to help districts meet these demands now and in the future, with advocates, administrators and leaders who understand the latest developments in the education field.