None of us would leave for a destination without a plan of action, without a direction and the right equipment to complete the journey. We all know that we want to provide the best pathways for our students to help foster 21st century skills.

As administrators, our responsibilities cover many areas including technology, which has become a necessary component of living and work. Technology can do many things, but in order to prepare our students for the future, education professionals need a new plan for how to employ it. For example, technology can accelerate innovation in teaching and learning and inspire learners to reach their greatest potential, it can provide students a window into a world right outside their door or halfway across the world.

That is why the ISTE Standards for Administrators are so important, as they provide all of us a set of expectations to effectively lead our schools and districts in an ever-changing digital world. Truly, these standards are the roadmap to accomplish the journey our students, teachers and schools seek to complete.

Using the ISTE Standards

ISTE began a cycle of updating the widely-used standards with the ISTE Standards for Students (released in summer 2016), followed by the ISTE Standards for Educators (released in summer 2017). These standards are a roadmap for educators worldwide to navigate decisions about curriculum, instruction and professional learning that are focused on the learner-driven application of technology.

During these refresh periods, ISTE engaged educators, students, thought leaders, and influencers to develop the latest standards and be a part of the process. We are now in the process of refreshing the Administrator Standards; arguably the toughest one of the group since it needs to encompass so much, but also be concise.

The goal is that the Administrator Standards can help us answer some important questions:

ISTE seeks input for standards for admin and students @ISTE
  • How does one lead a school or district in an ever-changing digital environment?
  • What should one know about the implementation and use of technology to effectively lead learning in a school or district?
  • What skills and competencies do administrators need?
  • What is the mindset of a modern education leader?

Seeking Input

We, along with our colleagues on ISTE’s Technical Working Group, are eager to learn from others and understand the challenges and opportunities that exist for leaders. We are already seeing some key themes emerge, including the need for education leaders to be learners themselves, to tell the story of their school or district, and to plan for educational equity that accounts for every student’s individual needs.

We have seen what good implementation of the standards can look like and it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. For example, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was the first school district in the nation to officially adopt the ISTE Standards for Students. At San Pascual STEAM Magnet, a school in LAUSD, the goal has been to implement the learning standards as a means to support teaching and learning, along with the school’s CLEAR Vision (Community, Leadership, Empathy, Academic Integrity, Reflection) which is the driving force behind student achievement.

This important charge has enabled the school to focus on the concept of Empowered Learners. Focusing the school-wide efforts on this particular ISTE Standard for Students has created opportunities for students to be able to choose learning styles that work best for them. This has also allowed the school to create an environment that fosters 21st century skills, from carefully designed STEAM-integrated units of instruction to student-led, project based learning experiences in the school’s media lab. These experiences continue to help all students grow and evolve and support all students.

At the end of the day the Administrator Standards will provide us and our colleagues around the world a clear indication of expectations for learning with technology, as well as a concise mandate as to what we should do to better prepare those under our supervision who are aspiring to lead.

Throughout the next several months ISTE will be working with the education community to update the Administrator Standards, gathering feedback on the draft standards, strategic questions and support needs. This process is an opportunity for all those who impact student success–school and district leaders, educators, higher education faculty, and even students and parents–to help develop these standards. We encourage you to be a part of the conversation at iste.org/AdminRefresh.

About the Author:

Dan Lawson, is the superintendent of schools for Tullahoma City Schools, Tullahoma, Tennessee. Paula Cordoba is the principal at San Pascual STEAM Magnet, Los Angeles Unified School District. Both are members of ISTE’s Technical Working Group on Administrator Standards.


Add your opinion to the discussion.