Drawing on advice from more than 2,000 educators, policy makers, and industry representatives, a collaborative of education leaders on Nov. 8 issued a comprehensive set of concrete and specific technology leadership guidelines to assist the nation’s school administrators.

A preliminary draft of the standards was issued last March (see “Here’s what it takes to be tech savvy,” April), and the final version of the standards followed nearly nine months of fine-tuning.

The Technology Standards for School Administrators (TSSA) identify what administrators need to know about successful technology integration and advise them on how to prudently and effectively manage technology resources to ensure both efficiency and impact.

“Administrators play a pivotal role in determining how well technology is used in our schools. In order for teachers and students to fully use technology to achieve academic goals, they need the support and vision of tech-savvy administrators,” said Jim Bosco, chairman of the TSSA Collaborative. “These standards will empower administrators to provide strong technology leadership.”

TSSA’s creators hope to follow the success of the two-year-old National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for students and teachers. Those standards were developed by a group of educators—assembled by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)—to help integrate technology at the classroom level.

TSSA was developed through a grassroots process in which numerous practicing administrators, policy makers, association leaders, and industry representatives provided input on the early draft of the standards. Those comments were examined and used to formulate the final version of the TSSA, released during a National School Boards Association (NSBA) technology conference in Atlanta.

“We thought it important to ensure that these standards represent a national consensus among all educational stakeholders rather than the top-down views of a few experts,” said ISTE’s Don Knezek, the TSSA project director.

The TSSA report lists six primary standards school administrators should adhere to. Each standard has a corresponding set of performance indicators for all school administrators. Additionally, tasks related to the standards are identified for three job roles: superintendents, district-level leaders for content-specific or other district programs, and principals and assistant principals.

Here are the six areas defined by the collaborative:

1. Leadership and Vision. This standard urges schools administrators to provide leadership by developing and promoting both a long-range vision and a comprehensive plan to integrate technology in schools and districts.

2. Learning and Teaching. This standard encourages education leaders to ensure the successful infusion of technology into all aspects of teaching and learning by attending to issues such as curricular design, instructional strategies, learning environments, and appropriate technology purchases.

3. Productivity and Professional Practice. This standard recommends that school leaders make use of technology in their own work to improve school management, collaboration, communication, and their own professional development.

4. Support, Management, and Operations. This standard is focused on the administrator’s activities in planning for all aspects of technology implementation, including technology compatibility, budgetary, staffing, technical support, and technology upgrade issues.

5. Assessment and Evaluation. This standard pertains to the administrator’s activities involving the assessment and data-gathering capabilities of technology to improve student learning, professional development, and administrative and operational systems.

6. Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues. This standard highlights the need for school leaders to (a) comprehend and develop policies about social, legal, and ethical issues associated with the use of technology, (b) communicate these policies to staff and students, and (c) enforce the polices when necessary.

“Over the last two decades the role of school leadership has evolved from being managers of buildings to facilitating and challenging the direction of instructional objectives and goals,” said David Rawls, superintendent of the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, schools.

“Given this transformation, today’s administrators must be able to seamlessly integrate technology into the learning environment and curriculum,” he said. “Technology will not only assist school leaders when assessing the impact of their efforts, but it will enable them to utilize data management systems to maximize technology investments to reach educational goals.”

Here is a list of the TSSA Collaborative members: American Association of School Administrators (AASA), National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals , NSBA, Association of Education Service Agencies, ISTE, Consortium for School Networking, North Central Regional Technology Consortium @ North Central Regional Education Laboratory, Southern Regional Educational Board, Kentucky Department of Education, Mississippi Department of Education, University of North Carolina Principals’ Executive Program, and Western Michigan University College of Education.

According to AASA’s executive director, Paul Houston, the new standards “represent a nationwide consensus on what school administrators need to know to promote the effective use of technology from the classroom to the central office.”

“These standards will also provide a benchmark for superintendents to measure the integration of technology into existing and future systemic reforms,” he said.


Technology Standards for School Administrators