Superintendent of Schools, K–12

The Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in Educational Leadership with a Superintendent of Schools K–12 certification concentration provides educators with the knowledge, skills, and understandings they need to successfully practice effective leadership in a school system or systems. This program offers educational leaders an opportunity to collaborate with, explore, and gain practical experiences from school district level leaders.

The school superintendent program is focused on the specialized leadership work conducted by school system leaders. This work is summarized in eight major areas of responsibility: general leadership; curriculum and instruction; personnel management; finance; student services; communications and community relations; technology and maintenance; and capital improvement.

Admissions Note: Candidates must possess a master’s degree in order to apply for admission to the CAGS program and have completed at least three years as an education administrator in a K–12 setting.

For students who are interested in Certification Only – you would take a total of 21 credits including the 15 credits in the Superintendent Component along with the practicum for 6 credits.

Use the Course Planning Matrix to see when Educational Leadership courses will be offered.

  • Prerequisite Coursework (from master’s or post-master’s)
  • 3
    AD 5700 School Law
    Federal and state laws that apply to school systems, educational programs, and personnel will be discussed. Also covered will be the legal prerogatives available to the administrator and local boards of education. Consideration of constitutional, statutory, and case-law foundations of education systems, and the school administrator's role will be discussed.
  • – OR –
  • 3
    This three-credit course will give participants a greater understanding of both federal and New Hampshire special education law. Time will be spent on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This course is designed and intended for teachers and special education administrators. You do not need to be a law student to succeed in this class. There is a heavy emphasis in this course on theory to practice, "practical news you can use" the next day in your profession. Students will review the most current cases and trends in special education law, analyze cases, and learn how to research both statutory and case law.
  • 3
    This course is designed to provide teachers with increased understanding of the needs of children who display maladaptive behaviors associated with conduct disorders in school settings. Students will investigate specific causes, diagnosis, assessment methods, interventions, etiology, co-morbidity, subtypes, pharmacotherapy, the role of the classroom teacher, and possible resources.
  • Educational Leadership Component – 18 credits
  • 3
    In this course, students will explore major concepts related to developing partnerships and communities of learners. Course topics include the change process, forms of school and community governance, school culture, the concept of collaboration, and agencies and organizations involved in community programs and initiatives. Special attention is focused on planning and implementing system-wide and building-level networks. Students will develop and evaluate a framework for collaboration and demonstrate systems thinking. Typically the first course completed in the CAGS program.
  • 3
    This course focuses on the development of a self-renewing capability inherent in professionals and organizations. Students will discuss the notion of transformation in the context of knowledge base, self-reflection, and the socio-professional processes in educational change. Students will explore the integration of ecological perspectives within a changing society and the demand for greater tolerance of human behavior in the context of learning. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the need to keep student learning and development as the central core of educational change. Prerequisites: EP 7020 and EP 7040.
  • 3
    The purpose of this course is to develop effective collaborative planners. This course presents the major stages in the process of developing a strategic plan, including forming a mission statement, crafting and implementing the plan, and evaluating plan performance. It provides a theoretical and practical overview of the skills, strategies, and resources required through each stage of the systemic planning process. (Prerequisite: EP 7020).
  • 3
    This course addresses mixed research design methodologies with a particular emphasis on constructing a proposal for a mixed methods study. The course includes theory and practice related to initiating an inquiry; gathering, recording, and analyzing data; and evaluating a study. (Prerequisites: Eligibility for CAGS level coursework, and a graduate level course in research design.)
  • 3
    This course presents a discussion of ways institutions and their communities must deal with the legal and political environment in which they exist. Topics include current legal issues and how the stakeholders in society can use the law as a tool for social change. Institutions must advocate for positive change through the development of thoughtful legal policies and practices. Prerequisite: AD 5700 or SE 5300.
  • 3
    Contemporary social, economical, political, and educational issues are the core of the course. They are identified in a forum that provides opportunities for the students to research current methodology together to address problems that relate to the specific roles of the course participants in their work inside or outside of the educational field. Working collaboratively, course candidates explore short-range and long range problem-solving strategies directed toward increasing their awareness of community perception and expectations, techniques for facilitating institutional change, and responding to the nature and culture of internal and external political systems and environments as they apply to their work sites. Prerequsite: EP 7020.
  • Superintendent of Schools Component – 15 credits
  • 3
    The development of school budgets that support the planning processes within a school setting will be covered. Other relevant topics will include cost effectiveness, revenue sources, communication with the public, capital projects, state and federal programs, using the budget to promote excellence in the schools, and principles and practices in collective bargaining.
  • 3
    The competence, skills and knowledge required for providing leadership in curriculum, instruction and assessment are the foundations of this class which focuses on improved teaching and learning. Graduate students will hone their ability to plan and facilitate the implementation of a developmentally appropriate, standards-based comprehensive curriculum, instruction, and assessment program that includes the effective use of data to improve student learning while making use of technology and information systems to support the instructional program. Interwoven is a close examination of the best practices and current trends in developing the culture, climate and partnerships necessary for successful growth.
  • 3
    Focus on policies and procedures affecting personnel management in the schools. Discussion of staffing, program and personnel evaluations, office procedures and record keeping, decision making, and negotiations. Emphasis on collective bargaining statutes, case law, grievance processing, mediation, employee relations boards, union security provisions, scope of bargaining, and the administration of the negotiated contract. Prerequisite: admission to Superintendent Certification program.
  • 3
    The role of the school administrator in planning school construction projects, maintaining school facilities, and overseeing the transportation of students is the focus of the course. Also emphasizes the relationship of facilities and transportation to the program needs of the students while complying with state and federal regulations. Prerequisite: Admission to the Superintendent certification program.
  • 3
    In-depth studies of essential knowledge bases and best practice skills required to effectively execute the responsibilities of the district level administration, including the roles of the public school superintendent and assistant superintendent. Attention will be given to balancing three sometimes conflicting roles: instructional, managerial, and political, in an era of standards-based accountability. Prerequisites: Admission to the Superintendent certification program.
  • Capstone Experience – 6 credits
  • 6
    The purpose of the practicum is to provide students with meaningful-field-based experiences that focus on the role of a school district leader. This is a collaborative, 300-hour supervised experience intended to support students in applying the knowledge, skills, and understandings they have gained throughout their K?12 superintendent certification program. Supervision of the practicum is the responsibility of two individuals: the university instructor, a Plymouth State University faculty member; and the site supervisor (or mentor), a school district superintendent. Pre-requisites: admission to Superintendent certification program and EP 7100, EP 7200, EP 7210 and EP 7300.
  • Total for CAGS in Educational Leadership, Superintendent of Schools K-12 Certification Concentration – 39 credits

Requirements for certification may change, subject to changes made by the New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE). Teacher candidates can find the latest NHDOE standards at

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