Over the past two decades, a reform movement of responsibility has emerged in the field of education. With the emergence of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and our nation’s focus on accountability for education, we have begun to look beyond the classroom teacher for liability.
In 1996 a new standard of measurement for school administrators was created. The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium Standards (ISLLC) was created for school leaders by a conglomerate of states, affiliations and organizations. The six ISLLC Standards are based on extensive research from these groups in the areas of leadership, authority, and analysis of policies and procedures (Council of Chief State School Officers [CCSSO], 2008). Creation of the ISLLC Standards has established a way to measure accountability and responsibility for school leaders by school districts and states. The original six standards were revised in 2007 and adopted into practice in January 2008.
In August of 1994, the ISLLC initiative began to emerge (Southern Utah University [SUU], 1996). The original consortium consisted of 24 states, a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts, and help from the Danforth Foundation and the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) (SUU). Furthermore there were several professional associations joined with the ISLLC: American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Association of School Administrators Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Association of Teacher Educators, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Council of Professor of Educational Administration, National Policy Board of Educational Administration, National School Boards Association, and University Council for Educational Administration (SUU, p. 6). The group operated under the guidance of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) (SUU). The original set of standards were designed to be applicable to all formal leadership positions. Each of the six initial ISLLC Standards are comprised of knowledge, disposition and performance criterion. These criterions are so elaborate for each standard there were as few as 19 or as many as 39 knowledge, skills and dispositions (CCSSO, 2008). The CCSO based this type of measurement on the belief that “dispositions are the proclivities that lead us in one direction rather than another” (SUU, p. 8). They felt it was easier to measure school administrators, at all levels, based upon the dispositions, since they support and give meaning to the performance and knowledge pieces.
The original ISLLC Standards were redesigned and finalized in 2008 (CCSSO, 2008). Undertaking the revision was an extensive researched based endeavor. The modification process was led by the NPBEA (CCSSO). Through careful consideration by the NPBEA and its member organizations, it had become clear that the original ISLLC Standards had become too restrictive. The knowledge, performance and dispositions design of the 1996 ISLLC Standards listed examples of leadership indicators and seemed to exclude other areas that could have been included (CCSSO). One of the important factors of the new ISLLC 2008 Standards are that they allow an association between assessments of school administrators and the standards. With the social change to accountability for teachers and administrators, the new ISLLC Standards allow states and school districts to set guidelines for evaluating performance of school administrators. Not only can performance be evaluated, but the new ISLLC Standards are a driving force behind how responsibility and authoritative roles are aligned (CCSSO). When the first ISLLC Standards were released, there was very little research or agreement on the influence that school leaders had over school or student improvement. Along with the ever-changing fabric of society, it is widely accepted that school administrators have a great deal of influence over both (The Wallace Foundation, 2008). The revised Standards support this theory and allow school administrators to be held accountable for school and student success.
During my research of the ISLLC Standards, I came across three very beneficial websites. They were the CCSSO’s website, Southern Utah University’s Education Department, and The Wallace Foundation. The CCSSO’s website contained the original 1996 ISLLC Standards along with an informative description of how the research began, the original consortium that performed the research and provided input, and the guiding principles for the standards. While exploring that website it provided insight to how and why the Standards were created. Understanding the driving force behind their creation enabled me to understand the full aspect of their influence. Southern Utah University’s website was beneficial as well. It provided the insight on the importance of the revision of the standards. The main focus on the revision was to provide a framework for each state to develop its expectations for school administrators and leaders. The Wallace Foundation website was helpful in providing links directly to the research that went into creating the revised Standards.
Now that I am well-informed on the ISLLC Standards, I will be able to implement them into daily practice. Standard One states that an educational leader will articulate, implement, and facilitate a learning environment that is shared and supported by all involved (CCSSO, 2008). This will be achieved by establishing a school wide vision statement that is adopted by not only the staff, but the community as well. An important aspect of creating a vision statement will be to effectively identify goals and establish the ability to monitor and track the status of those goals. Standard Two is created to promote a school environment that is conducive to student learning and professional growth for the staff (CCSSO). Creating an environment that is conducive to learning is imperative school wide. As a school administrator I would accomplish this by supervising instruction, promoting the use of up-to-date technology, and promoting an environment that encourages student involvement in their learning. Standard Three addresses creating a safe, effective, and efficient learning environment (CCSSO). Applying this on a daily basis will be achieved by supporting quality instruction, student learning, and most importantly protecting the welfare of the staff and students. The fourth Standard addresses creating a partnership between the faculty and the community (CCSSO). As a school administrator incorporating this into daily practice will be done by establishing a relationship with community members, business partners, and families in the area. The fifth Standard instills an ethical and professional demeanor on educational leaders (CCSSO). Applying this to daily practice is crucial because the school administrator is the role model for professional and ethical behavior. If the school leader demonstrates these values, the remainder of the staff will easily follow. Upholding an environment of integrity, fairness and professionalism is certain to increase student and staff morale, and self-esteem. The final Standard encourages a school leader to become actively involved and influencing the political, social, economic, legal and cultural context of the school (CCSSO). In order for a leader to be effective, they must be able to promote student success by becoming an advocate for their students. This can be accomplished by acting to influence the social, economic, legal and cultural structures that affect student learning and success.
In conclusion, the ISLLC Standards were created to establish a form of measurement, and accountability for school leaders. The constantly changing foundation of our society is influencing states and districts to establish a uniform policy on ensuring that effective leaders are placed appropriately. Colleges and Universities are utilizing the ISLLC Standards to create educational programs that use them as a foundation for creating high-quality school leaders. ISLLC Standards support the role of principals and school leaders and offer concrete policy recommendations that flow from these standards (CCSSO, 2008). With a newly established consensus on the important role school leader’s play in increasing student achievement, we need to provide the vehicle to create strong leadership values (The Wallace Foundation, 2008). The ISLLC Standards fulfill this task by creating a set of guiding policy standards in which high-qualify leaders are developed.
Council of Chief State School Officers (2008). Educational Leadership Policy Standards: ISLLC 2008 as Adopted by the National Policy Board for Educational Administration. Retrieved July 3, 2009, from http://www.ccsso.org/publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=365
Southern Utah University (1996). Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium: Standards for School Leaders. Retrieved July 3, 2009, from http://www.suu.edu/ed/pdf/isllc.pdf
The Wallace Foundation (2008). Educational Leadership Policy Standards: ISLLC 2008 A Foundation for Helping States and Districts Improve Education Leadership. Retrieved July 3, 2009, from http://www.wallacefoundation.org/NewsRoom/PressRelease/Pages/EducationalLeadershipPolicyStandardsISLLC2008.aspx