The Council for Chief State School Officers (CSSO) and the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) have revised the standards that guide preparation and practice for educational leaders in the United States. These standards, which were formerly known as the ISLLC standards, articulate the knowledge and skills expected of school leaders. The PSEL Standards will be adopted or adapted by many states to guide policies concerning the practice and improvement of educational leaders (e.g., licensure, evaluation and professional learning policies).
While aligned to the PSEL standards, the NELP standards serve a different purpose and provide greater specificity around performance expectations for beginning level building and district leaders. Whereas the PSEL standards define educational leadership broadly, the NELP standards specify what novice leaders and program graduates should know and be able to do as a result of their completion of a high quality educational leadership preparation program. Like the ELCC standards that preceded them, the NELP standards were developed specifically with the principalship and the superintendency in mind and will be used to review educational leadership programs through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) advanced program review process. There is one set of NELP standards for candidates preparing to become principals and a second set of standards for candidates seeking to become superintendents.
When compared to the 2011 ELCC standards there are several important differences. Perhaps most noticeable is the number of standards. The six content standards found in the 2011 ELCC standards have been expanded to seven in the draft NELP standards. The expansion enabled the NELP committee to develop standards that more closely reflect current understandings of school leadership, and to more clearly delineate several core leadership functions. For example, the 2011 ELCC standards addressed core values, professional norms, ethics, and equity within one standard. The new NELP standards include a standard for both ethics and professional norms (standard 2) and equity and cultural leadership (standards 3), which addresses capabilities for ensuring equitable protocols, access, and practices not present in the previous standards. Furthermore, the NELP standards address community and external leadership (standards 5) in a way that more clearly address the need for communicating, engaging, and partnering with families and the community.
The NELP standards more strongly distinguish between the unique knowledge and skills needed for the principalship and the superintendency. For example, the NELP building level standards include a specific standard on human resource leadership, while human resource leadership is included as one of several managerial functions in the district standard. Similarly, the district level standards place increased emphasis on the role of the district-level educational leader in instructional leadership and include a specific standard on policy, governance and advocacy. These changes reflect both the research base and the changing demands of school and district level leadership.
Following the revision of the draft standards, the committee will present the standards to the NPBEA for their review and approval. If approved, a number of other activities will commence. First, a set of candidate learning progressions and program review rubrics will be developed to guide the accreditation review of educational leadership preparation programs. Second, the research supporting each of the standards and elements will be compiled and made available to the field. Third, the committee will identify a set of sample powerful learning experiences and candidate performance assessments aligned the standards and designed to meet the performance assessment requirements of CAEP. These resources will be made available on the NPBEA and CAEP websites. Finally, a committee will review and, if needed, suggest more effective processes for the review of educational leadership preparation programs by CAEP and those states that adopt the NELP standards. The final NELP standards should be available for use beginning in early 2017.
~Dr. Terry Cash, Edwards Ed Consultant