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Updated Standards for Educational Leaders To Be Completed in October

Updated model standards for educational leaders, which have not been revised during a period of accelerated changes in the roles that principals and superintendents play in districts, are coming this fall.

The two national groups behind the updates—the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Policy Board for Educational Administration—said Tuesday that they hope the model standards, which were last updated in 2008, will be completed in October.

The standards that will be revised include the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards, which are used by districts and school leaders; the National Educational Leadership Preparation standards (NELP), used as national standards for aspiring school and district leaders; and new guides for principal supervisors, a group that provides coaching, evaluation, and other support to principals and whose importance has grown as a result of federal and state education policy changes over the last decade.

The ISLLC standards were last revised in 2008, while the NELP standards were last updated in 2011.

The model standards are voluntary, but are used in educational leadership preparation programs, including by states, districts, and universities across the country, the two organizations said in a statement announcing the updates.

They show the "leadership skills and knowledge that school leaders need to have in order to influence teaching and student learning,"  according to the organizations. They will also lay out the roles and responsibilities of the educational leaders, help shape how they are prepared for their positions, and the criteria on which they are to be evaluated.

The revisions, led by education leaders, including Joseph Murphy, the Frank W. Mayborn Chair and Associate Dean for Special Projects at Vanderbilt University Peabody College of Education, and Michelle Young, the executive director of the University Council for Education Administration and a professor of education leadership at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education, are funded by the Wallace  Foundation. The foundation gave $1 million in grants over a period of two years to the effort.

The standards for the first time will include the skills that principal supervisors should demonstrate. Principal supervisors can be a varied group, depending on the district. They can include superintendents, regional school officers, and former principals.

Efforts are already under way to increase their effectiveness. Earlier this year, the Wallace Foundation announced plans to provide $24 million in funds to improve the working conditions for principal supervisors—chief among them reducing the number of principals they supervise and increasing opportunities for them to coach, mentor, and support principals in six districts across the country. (The Wallace Foundation also supports coverage of leadership, expanded-learning time, and arts education in Education Week.)

Changes in federal mandates, including the Race to The Top grant competition and waivers to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, have altered the ways in which principals and superintendents do their jobs. The mandates have also changed expectations and evaluations. Additionally, states have strengthened measures for student growth and, in many cases, pegged principal and teacher evaluations to student performance.

The standards will have to be amended to reflect this new landscape, along with a growing body of research on educational leadership, some of which show linkages between educational leadership and student outcomes.

In a statement accompanying news of the planned revisions, Chris Minnich, the executive director of CCSSO, said:  "The demands on school leaders have never been greater. 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."

Jim Cibulka, the chairman of the NPBEA, said:  "America has significantly raised educational expectations for students and their teachers. 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."

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