School & District Management

Major Revisions Underway for School Leaders’ Standards

By Denisa R. Superville — July 08, 2014 3 min read
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Model standards used nationwide to guide, prepare, and evaluate school leaders—including principals, their supervisors, and superintendents—are expected to be revised and re-released this fall. The aim is to reflect the ways in which those jobs have changed in the past decade and to clarify roles, responsibilities, and expectations within a markedly different environment.

The latest Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium, or ISLLC, standards—last updated in 2008—are expected to be released in October.

In the months that follow, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Policy Board for Educational Administration, the groups leading the revision efforts, will also release revised National Educational Leadership Preparation, or NELP, standards, and new model standards for principal supervisors, who coach, evaluate, and provide other support to principals.

The revision of the ISLLC and NELP standards and the issuance of the first-ever national model standards for principal supervisors come at a critical time. Principals have had to adjust to a multitude of changes—in expectations, in job descriptions, and in performance benchmarks—resulting from federal and state policy initiatives.

Curricula have also changed to reflect a keener focus on college and career readiness and an alignment with the Common Core State Standards or similar standards in states that have not implemented or have dropped the common core.

In addition, a growing body of research on educational leadership is painting a clearer picture of the relationship between leader quality and student outcomes.

‘Common Understanding’

“The demands on school leaders have never been greater,” Chris Minnich, the executive director of the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers, said in a statement last month announcing the “refresh” of the standards. “To meet these new challenges, talented principals are essential.”

“The standards foster a common understanding of what education leaders’ jobs entail,” he added.

The model standards are voluntary, but they are used in preparation programs for educational leaders by states, districts, universities, and nonprofit organizations. The standards show the “leadership skills and knowledge effective school leaders need in order to influence teaching and student learning,” according to the sponsoring organizations.

They also lay out the roles and responsibilities of those leaders, help shape how they are prepared for their positions, and outline the criteria on which they are to be evaluated.

More Outreach

The ISLLC “footprint” will be similar to earlier models, said Dick Flanary, the deputy executive director for programs at the National Association of Secondary School Principals, in Reston, Va., who is serving on a committee working on standards for the Educational Leadership Constituent Council, or ILCC.

This round of revisions, however, is likely to incorporate a stronger community-engagement component, including efforts to get hard-to-reach parents involved, he said.

“I am seeing a whole lot more around the collaborative nature of school leadership,” Mr. Flanary said, “and impacting teachers’ practices, and engaging communities as learning partners.”

The Wallace Foundation donated $1 million over two years to finance the standards overhaul. (The Wallace Foundation also helps support coverage of leadership, expanded learning time, and arts education in Education Week.)

For the first time, the standards will detail the skills that principal supervisors should demonstrate. As a group, principal supervisors have been coming under intense scrutiny, primarily because of the lack of uniformity across districts and the workload that some must juggle. In some districts, principal supervisors can be superintendents; in others, regional school officers; and in others, former principals.

The public will have the opportunity to offer comments and suggestions on a draft of the standards due for release this summer, said Janice Poda, the strategic-initiative director for the education workforce at the CCSSO.

“This is an important body of work,” she said of the standards revision, “and the more transparency and input that we have, the better the standards would be.”

A version of this article appeared in the July 10, 2014 edition of Education Week as Major Revisions Underway for School Leaders’ Standards


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