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Draft of 2014 School Leadership Standards Open for Public Comment

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September 25, 2014 10:25 am

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In response to the increased performance expectations for education leaders, two national organizations have released draft “refreshed” standards that outline the leadership skills and knowledge effective district and school leaders need to advance teaching and student learning. The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) are seeking public feedback on the draft 2014 Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards via an online survey through October 10. The comments will be used to further refine the standards for release later this fall.

The 2014 ISLLC standards reflect the expanding empirical base that connects specific actions effective leaders take to improve student growth and achievement. School leadership is second in importance only to classroom instruction among school related influences on student achievement, and its impact is greatest in schools with the greatest needs. Leader effects on teachers and teaching practice are largely indirect and are shaped by strengthening professional communities and the collective influence of all participants in adopting practices that enhance student learning. As such, the updated standards emphasize the overarching role of school and district leaders in shaping a collective vision of student success and the importance of schools’ instructional program and culture. They highlight the need for shared or distributed leadership to fully implement student content standards, transform instruction, and effectively meet the diverse learning needs of students on a daily basis.

These broad policy standards are voluntary for states. States can adapt or adopt the standards to design policies and practices to drive leadership more precisely. Developed using research and the voices of more than 1,000 practitioners at school and district levels, the standards envision public schools that empower learners, emphasize the learning of content and the application of knowledge and skills to real world problems, and value the differences each student brings to the learning experience. They are designed to be used by states to lead the transformation of public schooling by articulating the knowledge and skills required of education leaders to achieve the improved outcomes desired for all students. To that end, the updated standards prioritize specific domains of leadership such as instructional improvement, equity and cultural responsiveness, technology, and enhancing teacher effectiveness and instructional capacity. Working with broad coalitions within states, the standards can guide and inform how leaders are recruited, prepared, evaluated, and continually supported throughout their careers.

Scaling up education reforms continues to be one of the major challenges facing state education systems in the United States. Education policies built around high academic standards, assessments, and accountability are necessary, but not sufficient conditions for improving instruction and student achievement in schools. As Dr. Richard Elmore, Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership, Administration, Planning and Social Policy, Harvard Graduate School of Education, states, “The premise that educators know what to do and all they need are the correct incentives to do it is essentially wrong…Schools simply cannot do what they are being asked to do without more explicit and powerful guidance and support for instructional practice and without major changes in investments in the knowledge and skill for educational practitioners.”

Mariana Haynes, PhD, is a Senior Fellow at the Alliance for Excellent Education

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