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Standard 7: Nature of Field Experiences

In the program of administrator preparation, candidates participate in significant field experiences that are designed to facilitate the application of theoretical concepts in practical settings. Each candidate addresses the major duties and responsibilities authorized by the administrative services credential as articulated in Standards 10-15. Field experiences include intensive experiences in a variety of diverse and realistic settings both in the day-to-day functions of administrators and in longer-term policy design and implementation.

For internship programs:

The definition of "field experiences" includes, but is not limited to, the responsibilities of the internship assignment. An assessment of the internship assignment is made to determine what additional experiences need to be planned for the candidate to provide a full range of administrative experiences. Specific supplementary administrative experiences are assigned to interns on the basis of the assessment.

Program Planning Prompts:

Authentic and significant field experiences addressing a variety of school levels, settings and a wide range of the typical responsibilities of a full-time administrator are required for each candidate, including field experiences, with at least one experience at a site with a diverse school population.

The Educational Leadership and Administration Program of California State University, Fresno has adopted the program mission statement “to prepare credible and relevant leaders in education.” It is essential that all of our coursework and the fieldwork requirements are very closely related to the job performance requirements and the daily life of school administrators.

The very design of the program leads to a progression of learning and skill development which are essential for current school leaders. A thorough understanding of developing a shared vision with a faculty and the larger school community, how to use data to effectively guide and inform instruction, supporting and evaluating the development of teachers as they utilize standards and assessments to guide their instruction, and a strong sense of core values and ethical behavior are all essential for the leaders of today’s schools.

At California State University, Fresno, candidates learn the foundational knowledge and theory of our profession and they are then given opportunity through class activities and through fieldwork assignments to put their new knowledge to use. They are supported by faculty who provide guidance, support, mentoring, and motivation for the often difficult tasks of leadership. They are also supported by their district mentor, generally the site supervisor, who in collaboration with the university, provides specific guidance and support.

While the model of the reflective practitioner (Schon, 1990; Danielson, 1996 and 2007) guides much of our work in preparing leaders, our relationship with those who are currently leaders in schools is of vital importance. Our fieldwork supervisors, all former or current leaders at the level of superintendent, assistant superintendent, or principal, have developed and reviewed the fieldwork activities to ensure that they are relevant to the needs of schools, provide opportunities to maximize learning for our candidates, and are linked logically to the objectives of our coursework.

The reputation of the Educational Leadership and Administration Program in the Central Valley is sterling and enjoys an open and highly productive relationship with virtually all of the surrounding school districts. Over 120 candidates are currently enrolled in the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential Program, which is more than all of the other preparation programs offered by three different universities in the local area.

Collaboration between the university supervisor, the district mentor (usually the site supervisor), and the candidate is vital and is known as “the three-legged stool” in that all three play an essential role in the success of the preparation of the candidate. The university mentor meets with the district mentor as soon as a candidate enrolls in administrative fieldwork. In this meeting, the collaborative partnership begins. The Administrative Fieldwork and Internship Agreement (Appendix 3) clearly states the duties and responsibilities of each partner and the Candidate Portfolio for Administrative Field Experience/Administrative Internship and Signature Assignments(Appendix 2) outlines the many and varied required and suggested activities. Thus, the district has knowledge of its responsibility and of the administrators chosen to be district mentors. All district mentors must be approved by the university. With district mentors who are new to the responsibilities of guiding the candidate’s field experience, the university supervisor provides background information and specific instructions that supplements the explanation of roles in the fieldwork handbook. Additionally, the university is in frequent contact with the district mentor, especially those for which this is a new responsibility. The candidate attends all of these meetings, unless there is need to discuss some aspect without the candidate’s presence.

Another of the major purposes of these contacts is to ensure that the candidate is involved in relevant activities to prepare her/him for the role of leadership. Relevant field experiences, in the form of signature assignments and embedded fieldwork throughout all of the coursework are designed so that the candidates, the district mentor, and the university supervisor can tailor some assignments or internship activities to the particular needs of the individual and site. Examples of the activities involve the candidate in analyzing and addressing equity issues (274 Signature Assignment 2), instruction (272 Signature Assignment 2 and Embedded Fieldwork Assignment 2), standards (272 Signature Assignment 1), assessment (272 Signature Assignment 3), professional development (263 Signature Assignment 1), finance (269 Embedded Fieldwork Assignment 3), and discipline (269 Embedded Fieldwork Assignment 2) among other areas. All of these activities may be found in the Candidate Portfolio for Administrative Field Experience/Administrative Internship and Signature Assignments found in Appendix 2. For all fieldwork placements, it is mandatory that the candidate will perform a wide range of the typical responsibilities of a full-time administrator that is seeking to maximize achievement for all students.

The criteria for approval of district mentors/site supervisors is as follows:

  • Are committed to work collaboratively with the candidate and with the university supervisor in planning, guiding, and evaluating the candidate’s progress,
  • Are willing to meet regularly with the candidate during her/his fieldwork experience,
  • Are willing to provide ongoing supervision and feedback to the candidate during the term of the fieldwork experience,
  • Have the required academic preparation, credentials, and at least two years of successful experience leading appropriate schools and grade levels, and
  • Have the endorsement of the district superintendent to serve as a district mentor for administrative fieldwork or internship candidates.

The candidate should complete the fieldwork requirements in a least two different school levels (elementary, middle, high school). In addition, the candidate should complete at least 40 hours on a school site where at least 20% of the candidates are of an ethnic, racial, cultural, and/or socio-economic group other than that of the candidate. In the Central Valley of California, it is difficult NOT to work in a school that meets the criteria given the diversity of the region. The Candidate Portfolio for Administrative Field Experience/Administrative Internship and Signature Assignments (Appendix 2) defines the requirements and expectations.

Communication and collaboration between the district mentor, the candidate, and the university supervisor takes places on a regular basis through site visitations, telephone and email contact, and monthly seminars. Final evaluation of the candidate’s field experience is the responsibility of the university supervisor in collaboration with the district mentor.

Administrative interns

Administrative interns who are assigned to positions of leadership at school sites, such as vice principals, learning directors, program managers, team leaders, and other related positions generally have a set of responsibilities assigned to them that are position specific. Their first obligation is to complete those responsibilities in a satisfactory manner with the support and guidance of both the district mentor and the university supervisor. However, if these candidates in intern positions have not had the opportunity to complete the fieldwork experiences and related signature assignments previously, they are assigned the mandatory activities of fieldwork along with any specific additional activities needed to provide them with the full range of administrative experiences. An initial assessment is made during the orientation meeting (using the Descriptions of Practice from WestEd, 2003 - see Appendix 13) between the candidate, the district mentor, and the university supervisor to determine additional preparation activities. The activities may be modified during the course of the internship by mutual agreement of the district mentor and university supervisor as additional assessment, both informal and formal of the candidate’s growth and the needs of the site/position may evolve.

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