National Policy Board approves refreshed guidelines that hope to help educational leaders improve student achievement

educational-leadersNew professional standards for educational leaders aim to ensure district and school leaders are able to improve student achievement and meet new, higher expectations.

The National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) voted unanimously to approve the new, refreshed 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, formerly known as ISLLC standards.

“The 2015 standards take a huge stride toward clarifying the administrator’s role and connecting that role directly to student learning,” said JoAnn D. Bartoletti, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and NPBEA chair. “A highly collaborative and inclusive process resulted in a high-quality set of standards that can potentially transform principal preparation and evaluation programs across the country.”

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) worked closely with other members of NPBEA for more than a year to refresh the ISLLC standards, which were first published in 1996 and last updated in 2008. Since June 2014, the two groups have held two public comment periods, conducted numerous focus groups and established a 13-member working group to synthesize this feedback from the field and finalize the standards.

The standards include a stronger, clearer emphasis on students and student learning and describe foundational principles of leadership than can help to make sure every child is well-educated and prepared for the 21st century, with a strong emphasis on educational equity.

The updated standards also elevate areas of work for educational leaders that were once not well understood or deemed less relevant but have since been shown to contribute to student learning, such as managing change within schools and creating cultures of continuous improvement. In addition, one standard describes the ethical obligations of educational leaders.

“A school leader’s day-to-day work is dramatically different since the first release of these standards in 1996. Twenty years later, I am pleased to see CCSSO and other members of NPBEA have updated the standards to reflect what school leaders face each and every day. While maintaining a clear focus on equity, these standards now outline what it takes to be an instructional leader and an effective building manager in today’s school,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO.

These approved standards also could challenge the profession, professional associations, policy makers, institutions of higher education and other organizations that support educational leaders and their development to move beyond established practices and systems and strive for a better future.

The standards 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 meet local needs.

The standards were refined after two extensive rounds of public input, including responses from more than 1,000 principals and superintendents, that gathered perspectives from across the field. A number of experts also made valuable contributions to the project, including the co-chairs of the 13-member working group: Beverly Hutton, deputy executive director of programs/services at NASSP, and Mark Smylie, professor emeritus, University of Illinois at Chicago and visiting professor of Leadership, Policy and Organizations at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University.

The final standards will be published in November. The Wallace Foundation provided $1 million in support to CCSSO over two years for the leadership standards work.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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