Standards Letter to the Editor

School-Leader-Licensure Standards Lose Their Punch

July 07, 2015 | Corrected: February 21, 2019 2 min read
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Corrected: The original version of this letter misspelled co-author Leslie Kaplan’s name.

To the Editor:

The May 13, 2015, article, “New Leader Standards Kick Up Controversy” concerning the professional standards created by the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium merits a response. As former K-12 practitioners and current academics, we would like to share our opinion that the seven ISLLC standards, reduced from 11, in the 2015 revision significantly weaken our professional practice and represent a serious flaw in guidance for state educational leadership and graduate leadership preparation programs.

Educational leadership is complex; perhaps 11 standards are necessary. By having fewer standards, the ISLLC has diluted their significance and done a disservice to the role they each play.

For example, the greatest challenge in schools today is the struggle for students from low-income, minority, and other cultural backgrounds to achieve high academic levels. The 2014 Standard 10, “Equity and Cultural Responsiveness,” which specifically addressed this particular social-justice issue, is missing from the 2015 standard and only briefly mentioned elsewhere. We believe that the importance of helping high-risk children succeed deserves its own standard.

Additionally, wording in the 2015 revision is considerably weaker than in the 2014 draft. In the latter, the verbs are precise, active, and guide leaders’ actions. As an example: Standard 1 in 2014 read: “Vision and Mission. An educational leader promotes the success and well-being of every student by ensuring the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a child-centered vision of quality schooling that is shared by all members of the school community.” Now, it reads, “Standard 1. Education leaders build a shared vision of student academic success and well-being.” There are many other examples. The 2014 language provides greater clarity. It offers a guide to action and spells out the constituents.

The 2015 revision also ignores much of the content on creating a culture of continuous school improvement; the need for well-honed interpersonal skills; the importance of data collection, organizational learning, ethics and professional norms, and professional culture. Communities of engagement for families is so watered down in the current version that it now includes little action outside of the school.

One must question what happened at Council of Chief State School Officers between the 2014 and the 2015 draft releases.

This letter reflects the personal opinions of the letter writers.

William Owings


Educational Foundations and Leadership

Old Dominion University

Norfolk, Va.

Leslie Kaplan

Retired School Administrator

Newport News, Va.

A version of this article appeared in the July 08, 2015 edition of Education Week as School-Leader-Licensure Standards Lose Their Punch


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