University-based preparation programs, schools districts, and state educational agencies share a common stake in successful principal making, suggesting that collaborations are needed to identify a broad array of necessary knowledge, skills, and proficiencies for contemporary school leaders and to identify sites for clinical experiences and disciplined inquiry (Darling-Hammond, LaPointe, Meyerson, Orr, & Cohen, 2007; National Policy Board for Educational Administration, 1989; Orr, 2006). Recent studies, however, found that collaboration between districts and universities can range from non-existent (Barber & Browne-Ferrigno, 2009) to turbulent (Easley, Riehl, Blum & Wu, 2009; North & LaPointe, 2009). It may be that university-district collaborations are more difficult to develop and sustain than realized.
Policymakers in a mid-western state--an original participant in The Wallace Foundation State Action for Educational Leadership Project, recently mandated that all current university-based preparation programs shall no longer be accredited as of December 31, 2011. Applications for approval of new programs must include signed collaborative agreements with school districts indicating joint screening of principal candidates and joint identification of potential program leaders and mentors as well as documented evidence of codesign and codelivery of courses. This paper attempts to answer the question, What impact does a policy mandating universities and districts to partner have on leadership preparation programs?