School & District Management

New Professional Standards For School Leaders Are Approved

By Denisa R. Superville — October 23, 2015 3 min read
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After more than a year of deliberations, a set of professional standards for education school leaders are set to head out the door.

The National Policy Board for Educational Administration unanimously adopted the standards on Thursday. They will no longer go by the acronym ISLLC, short for Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium standards, as they have been known since they were first devised and adopted as professional benchmarks for principals and school leaders in 1996.

Instead, they will be called Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, which better reflect their contents, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers, which owns the copyright to the standards. The new standards are expected to be published and distributed next month.

JoAnn Bartoletti, the NPBEA’s chairwoman and the executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said in a news release that the revised standards “take a huge stride toward clarifying the administrator’s role and connecting that role directly to student learning.”

There are now 10 standards, and they broadly lay out what school leaders should know and be able to do to lead high-achieving schools and students in the 21st century.

The standards “describe the foundational principles of leadership that can help to make sure every child is well-educated and prepared for the 21st century, with a strong emphasis on educational equity,” the CCSSO said.

The CCSSO said the revised standards elevate parts of the job that contribute to student learning, but were not well understood or were once considered to be less relevant.

A draft of the standards that was released in May was criticized for having an insufficient emphasis on equity and the lack of a specific standalone standard dealing with ethical norms. The new set includes those two as separate strands.

Broadly the new standards cover the following topic areas: (They are followed by the competencies.)


  • Mission, Vision, and Core Values
  • Ethics and Professional Norms
  • Equity and Cultural Responsiveness
  • Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
  • Community of Care and Support for Students
  • Profession Capacity of School Personnel
  • Professional Community for Teachers and Staff
  • Meaningful Engagement of Families and Community
  • Operations and Management
  • School Improvement

The NPBEA vote on Thursday followed a two-day session in late September during which a 13-member group consisting of sitting principals, associations that represent them, and representatives from preparation programs and higher education schools, met to reconcile two previous drafts.

The CCSSO’s executive director, Chris Minnich, noted that times had changed since the standards were first released and the new benchmarks reflected current school leaders’ day-to-day reality.

“While maintaining a clear focus on equity, these standards now outline what it takes to be an instructional leader and an effective building manager in today’s schools,” Minnich said.

Beverly Hutton, the deputy executive director for programs and services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals and who worked on the standards, said they were also aspirational.

“These are standards for student-centered practice,” she said. “They recognize the importance of cultural responsiveness in the context of a role that addresses the needs of each student.”

The process was funded by the Wallace Foundation, which supports coverage of leadership and expanded learning time at Education Week.

Related Stories:

Major Revisions Underway for School Leaders’ Standards

New School Leaders’ Standards Released for Public Comment

School Administrator Standards Stress Leading for Learning

Release of Standards for Principals and School Leaders Is Delayed

New School-Leader Standards Stir Dissent

School-Leader Standards to Get More Revision

School-Leaders’ Standards Moving Toward Final Review

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.


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