Washington, D.C. (June 10, 2014) -- Two national education organizations have launched a major effort to refresh model standards for education leaders to ensure leaders are better able to improve student achievement and meet new, higher expectations.
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) are leading an effort to refresh the standards to reflect research-based evidence and experience gained since the last update of the standards in 2008. The standards detail the leadership skills and knowledge effective school leaders need in order to influence teaching and student learning.
The model standards, which will be completed in October, are voluntary. States, districts, schools and university and nonprofit leadership preparation programs use the standards to guide preparation, practice, support and evaluations for district and school leaders, including superintendents, principals, assistant principals, and teacher leaders. Most states adapt them to local needs. The project also will produce the first-ever standards for principal supervisors, those who coach, support and evaluate principals.
The responsibilities of principals and superintendents have changed significantly since the original leader standards were released in 1996, especially since the standards were last updated. State-level reform measures across the country have set higher expectations for student growth and achievement and place new demands on district and school leaders to ensure all students are learning. Principals in most states are implementing higher learning standards to prepare all students for college, careers and life. In addition, the federal Race to the Top program and Elementary and Secondary Education Act waivers place new emphasis on principal effectiveness. As a result, many states and districts are taking steps that demand a rethinking of education leadership, including implementing principal support, coaching and evaluations as well as clarifying and strengthening roles, such as that of principal supervisors and teacher leaders.
"The demands on school leaders have never been greater," said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. "To meet these new challenges, talented principals are essential. We are refreshing the standards to help ensure school leaders have the knowledge and skills to improve teaching and student achievement. The standards foster a common understanding of what education leaders' jobs entail."
"America has significantly raised educational expectations for students and their teachers," said Jim Cibulka, chair of NPBEA. "The success of this transformation will depend on highly effective school leaders, and these model standards will help us ensure we have the very best, well-prepared people leading our schools."
Not only have expectations for school leaders increased, but new knowledge also has been gained through research. For example, evidence links education leadership with student performance. After teaching, it is the biggest school-based contributor to student achievement. In fact, studies find no documented instances of failing schools turning around without powerful leadership. In addition, studies show that an effective principal is a teacher's primary reason to stay in a school.
The refreshed standards will further clarify roles and responsibilities for educational leaders, guiding how they are prepared, what is expected in their daily work, how they will be supported, and on what they will be evaluated. The standards will be rooted in both research and effective practice highlighting the most important characteristics of education leaders, operating within today's education context.
"As principals' responsibilities expand, it's more important than ever for principals to cultivate leadership in others, including assistant principals, teacher leaders and others," said Minnich. "Principals should not only share leadership with others, but also improve the abilities of others."
The Wallace Foundation, a national philanthropy that has supported research and work on improving educational leadership for more than a decade, gave grants totaling $1 million over two years to CCSSO to lead a large part of the leadership standards work, which includes:
- Refreshing the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards, which are the standards for practicing district and school leaders. They were last revised in 2008.
- Refreshing the National Educational Leadership Preparation (NELP) standards, which have served as national standards for the preparation of aspiring school and district leaders and the accreditation of educational leadership preparations across the country. These standards were first developed by the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) and were last revised in 2011.
- Developing new standards for principals' supervisors, the central-office leaders who coach, support and evaluate school principals.
More than 70 principals, superintendents, state education departments' staff, education professors, researchers, and others are working to refresh the current ISLLC and NELP standards and develop the new principal supervisor standards in a process led by CCSSO and NPBEA. Drafts of the standards will be shared as part of the process to get feedback from stakeholders.
Several experts are serving as leaders on this project, including Cibulka, who also is president of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), Joseph Murphy, the Frank W. Mayborn chair and associate dean for special projects at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College, and Michelle Young, executive director of University Council for Educational Administration and professor of educational leadership at the University of Virginia, Curry School of Education.
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