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Marilyn Tallerico, professor, Graduate School of EducationProfessor Marilyn Tallerico

In 2005, Marilyn Tallerico joined Binghamton University as a professor of education and coordinator of the Graduate School of Education's Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Educational Leadership program, which prepares education professionals to lead in preK–12 schools and districts. Her fourth book, Leading Curriculum Improvement: Fundamentals for School Principals, was published in 2012. Learn more about Professor Tallerico, her most recent book and the educational leadership program here.

Tell us a little about your background.

I have a bachelor's degree in Spanish-secondary education and a master's degree in bilingual education, both from the University of Connecticut. I also have a PhD in educational leadership and policy studies from Arizona State University. My career in K-12 education includes positions as a central office curriculum director, a coordinator of bilingual and English-as-a-second-language programs, and a Spanish teacher. In addition to Binghamton, my university work includes 17 years as a faculty member and educational leadership program coordinator at Syracuse University.

What was the impetus behind your new book?

After years of teaching educational leadership, I became dissatisfied with existing texts and materials to train future administrators to serve in the public schools. So, I started writing books that I could use in my classes and that I knew other professors of educational leadership might benefit from using in their classes. This is the second of two books [the previous, Supporting and sustaining teachers' professional development, focused on adult learning] that have been aimed in that direction—to support the teaching and preparation of future leaders.

So, the target audience for your book includes your CAS students?

Yes. The ideal audience would be any K–12 school administrator in the early part of his or her career as well as graduate students studying to become K-12 administrators. During writing I was very aware of serving dual audiences—the academic student in a graduate program and the busy practitioner interested in expanding his or her knowledge base.

Your book poses and then answers seven key questions. How did you select those questions and why did you choose that format?

After teaching at two different universities about curriculum leadership, patterns became evident in two things: 1) what was most useful for future administrators to know and 2) what was most important (in my professional judgment) for future and current administrators to know. So the questions came directly from years of teaching, years of noticing the kinds of problems that practitioners struggle with in the field, and years of getting smart questions from all the intelligent students I've had the privilege to teach over the years.

The book is organized in a format that models one potentially useful strategy for organizing curriculum in a way that interests students. In this case, the curriculum is organized around a small number of big ideas and enduring questions that engage students with the subject.

Your book discusses how principals (and other administrators) can affect curriculum development. How much influence do they have?

Principals have a lot of influence on the curriculum because they're the ones who work everyday with the teachers who are closest to the children. While coordination and some standardization at the state level are important, a school's principal and teachers know that particular microcosm of children best. They know if adjustments to a prescribed curriculum are needed and valued at a grassroots level.

Through professional development, faculty meetings, casual and formal observation of what is going on in the classrooms, and conversations they have with teachers, principals shape what happens in the classroom. They shape the curriculum. It's definitely an indirect influence, but it can be a powerful one because the day-to-day is typically more important than what might be written in state or district guidelines about curriculum.

Is there another book in your future?

Yes, I'm very interested in writing a book about the politics of education in ways that would help current and future administrators. Schools are political institutions; political dynamics shape decisions that affect schools. The next book will discuss what future or current administrators need to know to navigate the politics involved in education.

You said the audience for your new book includes your CAS students. Are there other connections between the two?

Yes, there is a very clear similarity between the book and its purpose and what the CAS program focuses on and is trying to accomplish. Both balance attention to research, theory and practical applications that will help our students become strong administrators and school leaders.

Another parallel is that the book and the program keep the "educational" in "educational leadership." Historically, this field was called "educational administration," and its focus was administration in the sense of a management or operations framework. The most successful schools have leaders who focus on operations and management, but who also have deep knowledge of the instructional part of the program—what gets taught and how it gets taught. That is critical to address the higher [state and federal] standards and to meet the increased expectations parents, citizens and other constituencies expect of schools today.

Before we go on, let's provide a brief overview of the CAS program.

The CAS in educational leadership prepares educational leaders to serve in preK–12 schools and school districts. It's a graduate-level professional-development program, in between a master's degree and a doctoral degree. Typical students are part-time, post-master's students who work full-time as teachers or other kinds of educational professionals in preK–12 schools. The program requires 32 graduate credit hours consisting of eight four-credit-hour courses, seven of which are required and one of which is an elective. One of the required courses is an internship, accompanied by a seminar. Students may choose to complete the program in one year (including summers) by selecting the accelerated track, or 2–3 years by choosing the working track.

When was the CAS program created? What prompted its development?

The CAS program was started in 2007 to expand the Graduate School of Education's outreach and service to the community and to the schools in our region and throughout New York state. For many years, the University has been preparing teachers to go into a variety of K–12 positions, but only since 2007 have we extended that outreach to also prepare school administrators. In five years we've had about 50 students participate in the program, about 10 new admits a year.

Can you tell us about the internship that is a required part of the program?

Our partners in the regional K–12 school systems have created excellent internship opportunities for CAS students. Our interns serve in all kinds of leadership positions, from staff development and managing afterschool tutorials and credit-recovery programs to leading special-education group meetings and curriculum development during the summer months. These internships [each is individually negotiated between the student and district administration; all are paid] really reflect the range and variety of leadership positions in schools today. This hands-on practice supplements the other coursework and applied projects our CAS students perform in their other courses.

What career advancement have program graduates experienced?

We've got an outstanding placement rate for this young program, with 80 percent of our graduates moving on to administrative positions within two years of graduating.

How common is it for CAS graduates to go on to get their doctorate in education?

We're particularly pleased that four of our students simultaneously completed their certificate in advanced studies in educational leadership and their doctorate in education . . . or are on their way to doing so. Our CAS courses are electives in the doctoral program, so there is a strong connection between the two at the Graduate School of Education. By intentionally connecting these programs, we increased the rigor and challenge of the CAS program. We're pleased to be known as rigorous.

How can interested individuals learn more about the educational leadership program?

Our website provides information about the CAS curriculum, educational leadership courses, admissions and frequently asked questions. If additional assistance is needed, prospective students should contact me at mtalleri@binghamton.edu or 607-777-2478.

Last Updated: 3/20/14