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Online Answers for Administrators!

This week, William D. McInerney -- professor of educational administration at the Purdue University School of Education -- recommends some of the best Web resources for school administrators. He also discusses evaluating Web sites and praises the World Wide Web as an educational tool. Included: McInerney's top Web picks for educational administrators.

William D. McInerney is a professor of educational administration at Purdue University's School of Education. As a teacher of future school administrators, McInerney sees the World Wide Web's great potential as a tool for learning and sharing. He also sees its drawbacks. That's why McInerney created a Web page that highlights some of the best online resources for school administrators. His site, Resources in Educational Administration, is well worth a look-see.

"[The site] helps me believe that I'm imposing a wee bit of order on the WWW," McInerney told Education World. "As a teacher, I find the use of the personal Web page and sets of lists to be really handy. Because my links are on the Web, my students can access them from anywhere at any time."

"Further," McInerney continued, "[students] tell me that it's really convenient to go to my links when they're interested in a topic. I get them started finding materials more quickly than they would if they had to go to search engines every time they wanted to find materials on the Web.

"I find most of the links by serendipity while roaming the Web," McInerney added. "And of course students find good sites and send them to me to include on the lists."


"One of the things I try to teach my students is how to find sites on which they can rely for good information," McInerney explained. "The secret to finding good sites isn't all that different from finding materials in a library. You simply have to be sure that you're at a site that has reputable institutional resources behind it.

"The single most important bit of advice is to pay attention to who is behind the site," he added. "If it's an organization you think highly of, then you can feel confident that the material on the site is likely to be pretty good." That's why McInerney includes several Web resources from the U.S. Department of Education on his list. "My links are highly idiosyncratic, of course," McInerney acknowledged.


McInerney's complete list represents a vast amount of information for anyone interested in educational issues. Here are ten sites that he identifies as particularly rich resources.

  • U.S. Department of Education
    This huge site presents headlines and background information on all aspects of education in the United States. A navigation bar on the left side of the main page makes moving through the massive amount of information available easy. Click on such sections as Student Financial Assistance, Research & Statistics, and News & Events. Search through the thousands of publications, synopses, literature reviews, studies, and reports produced or funded by the department since 1980 and order publications. Users will also find information on educational statistics and laws that affect education.

  • American Association of School Administrators (AASA)
    AASA is a professional organization for public school administrators. The Web site offers articles on current issues; background information on topics such as parental involvement, block scheduling, and charter schools; and information on political advocacy and state administrators' associations. Visitors can also access the association's monthly publication, The School Administrator. Full-text articles go back to 1996; a subject index, without hyperlinks, goes back to 1994. Some articles are available only to association members. This site also includes the publication The AASA Professor back to fall 1997.

  • ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management
    ERIC is the Educational Resources Information Center, a national network under the U.S. Department of Education. The ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, housed at the University of Oregon's College of Education, "acquires, indexes, abstracts, and enters into the ERIC database documents, papers, and articles on educational management" and produces "books, monographs, and synthesis papers" on topics of educational policy. Search the site or browse the publications. Under Trends & Issues, users will find background information on key topics, such as school choice. Each topic has a series of subsections, such as Discussion, Summary, Links, References, and Resources.

  • ERIC Digests "ERIC Digests are
  • short reports (1,000 to 1,500 words) on topics of prime current interest in education. targeted specifically for teachers, administrators, policymakers, and other practitioners but generally useful to the broader educational community. designed to provide an overview of information on a given topic and references to items providing more detailed information. produced by the 16 subject-specialized ERIC Clearinghouses and reviewed by experts and content specialists in the field."
  • The full-text ERIC Digests database is updated quarterly. The database currently contains 2,129 digests published from the beginning of 1992 through September 1999 and 865 pre-1992 digests. Search all of them here.

  • National Institute on Educational Governance, Finance, Policymaking, and Management
    "Located within the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) at the U.S. Department of Education, the Institute's purpose is to provide national leadership and support to develop and disseminate information that helps guide the design and implementation of governance arrangements, policy approaches, management strategies, and finance systems that will support high levels of learning by all students." The site includes information on how to apply for grants for educational research. Read abstracts of past and current research projects and outreach activities, and browse a listing of the Institute's publications.

  • Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Network
    The REL Network consists of ten Regional Educational Laboratories that cover the geographic areas of the United States. Supported by the U.S. Department of Education, the network helps state and local communities use research "to tackle the difficult issues of education reform and improvement." In addition to serving a specific geographic section of the country, each of the ten laboratories specializes in a particular research area. The North Central Laboratory, for example, specializes in educational technology. This searchable site includes news archives and a list of publications.

  • National Education Association (NEA)
    This site is packed with all sorts of information for administrators, teachers, and parents: news about education issues, news and information about the NEA (such as the current Read Across America campaign), lesson plans, a health information network, classroom tips, resources related to educational issues (such as bilingual education and charter schools), and examples of school, community, and business partnerships. Read the current issue of NEA Today Online, or search the archives back to September 1997.

  • Education Policy Analysis Archives
    McInerney calls this peer-reviewed journal, published at Arizona State University, one of the very best resources in educational administration on the Web. The full texts of all articles from Volume 1, 1993, to the present are posted here. Users can search the site, browse the articles or the abstracts, or submit articles or commentaries.

  • Education Week
    Home of the online versions of both Education Week and Teacher Magazine, this site offers information "for people interested in education reform, schools, and the policies that guide them." Daily News links to articles involving educational issues in U.S. newspapers, special reports on issues such as recruiting and retaining teachers, the business of schooling, and leadership in education. In Context provides background summaries of educational issues, a glossary, and links to related sites. Visitors can search the current issue or the archives of both magazines. Education Week archives go back to 1981; Teacher Magazine archives go back to its inception in 1989.

  • ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education
    Another of the several ERIC offerings, this searchable site covers topics in urban education, including school safety, urban and minority families, equity and cultural diversity, community involvement, urban and minority youth development, and administration and finance. Lists of publications, links to other ERIC databases, and links to other Internet resources are included.

McInerney's list continues to evolve as he locates valuable new resources. "The WWW is a truly revolutionary development in the dissemination of human knowledge," said McInerney. "The effect of the Web on our teaching is already profound; I can hardly wait to see where it goes from here."

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Article by Mary Daniels Brown
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