[cross-posted at the TechLearning blog]

There are two primary standards documents for school administrators: ISLLC and ELCC. Together they broadly define the parameters of school leaders' work. They also guide school district position descriptions; administrator evaluations and assessments; state licensure, certification, and accreditation expectations; and the content and coursework of postsecondary leadership preparation programs.

ISLLC

The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium Standards for School Leaders (a.k.a. ISLLC), were created by the Council of Chief State School Officers and are the foundation of nearly every state's standards for administrator licensure and certification. The ISLLC framework was adopted in 1996 and is organized around six basic standards. The ISLLC standards note that a "school administrator is an educational leader who promotes the success of all students by..."

  1. facilitating the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by the school community;
  2. advocating, nurturing, and sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth;
  3. ensuring management of the organization, operations, and resources for a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment;
  4. collaborating with families and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources;
  5. acting with integrity, fairness, and in an ethical manner; and
  6. understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context.

The ISLLC standards only mention technology twice:

  • the administrator has knowledge and understanding of the role of technology in promoting student learning and professional growth (under Standard 2); and
  • the administrator facilitates processes and engages in activities ensuring that there is effective use of technology to manage school operations (under Standard 3).

ELCC

The Educational Leadership Constituent Council standards (a.k.a. ELCC) were adopted by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and are used for accreditation of postsecondary educational leadership programs. The ELCC framework was adopted in 2001 and is organized around seven basic standards. The ELCC standards note that "[c]andidates who complete [educational administration programs] are educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by..."

  1. facilitating the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a school or district vision of learning supported by the school community;
  2. promoting a positive school culture, providing an effective instructional program, applying best practice to student learning, and designing comprehensive professional growth plans for staff;
  3. managing the organization, operations, and resources in a way that promotes a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment;
  4. collaborating with families and other community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources;
  5. acting with integrity, fairly, and in an ethical manner; and
  6. understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context.

The seventh ELCC standard has to do with preservice administrator internships.

As you can see, the ELCC standards are extremely similar to ISLLC. However, the ELCC standards mention technology a little more than does ISLLC:

  • candidates demonstrate the ability to use and promote technology and information systems to enrich curriculum and instruction, to monitor instructional practices and provide staff the assistance needed for improvement (under Standard 2);
  • candidates are able to use qualitative and quantitative data, appropriate research methods, technology, and information systems to develop a long-range plan for a district that assesses the district's improvement and accountability systems (under Standard 2); and
  • candidates demonstrate knowledge of adult learning strategies and the ability to apply technology and research
    to professional development design focusing on authentic problems and tasks, mentoring, coaching, conferencing, and other techniques that promote new knowledge and skills in the workplace (under Standard 2); and
  • candidates use problem-solving skills and knowledge of strategic, long-range, and operational planning (including applications of technology) in the effective, legal, and equitable use of fiscal, human, and material resource allocation and alignment that focuses on teaching and learning (under Standard 3).

There also is some additional language regarding technology in the narrative sections accompanying Standards 2 and 3.

NETS-A

The International Society for Technology in Education released its National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A) in 2001. The NETS-A are comprised of six broad standards and 31 performance indicators. The NETS-A state that "educational leaders..."

  1. inspire a shared vision for comprehensive integration of technology and foster an environment and culture conducive to the realization of that vision;
  2. ensure that curricular design, instructional strategies, and learning environments integrate appropriate technologies to maximize learning and teaching;
  3. apply technology to enhance their professional practice and to increase their own productivity and that of others;
  4. ensure the integration of technology to support productive systems for learning and administration;
  5. use technology to plan and implement comprehensive systems of effective assessment and evaluation; and
  6. understand the social, legal, and ethical issues related to technology and model responsible decision-making related to these issues.

The NETS-A do not align very well with the two main sets of administrator standards. To date they also have had little impact on most state licensure and accreditation efforts or on most university educational leadership programs.

Discussion

Should there be more mention of technology in either ISLLC or ELCC? Probably.

That said, we also know that technology leadership is just one aspect of principals' and superintendents' busy lives. While we might wish that ISLLC and ELCC better recognized the ways that digital technologies are revolutionizing our personal and professional lives, we also must remember that school administrators are responsible for leading instruction, supervising and evaluating employees, budgeting, community relations, management and operations, and a variety of other duties. There's only so much time in administrators' days and we have to prioritize their time and energy.

The NETS-A are an ambitious set of standards. While ideally all of the NETS-A capacities exist somewhere in the school organization, it is difficult to argue that a single person should be proficient in every single area the NETS-A cover. There will be some educators, whoever, who want a comprehensive program grounded in the NETS-A. The graduate programs offered by CASTLE, our partner universities, and a few other educational leadership programs are an attempt to meet that need.

The ISLLC and ELCC standards dominate conversations and expectations regarding school administrator competency. The next iterations of both documents probably should more explicitly address the technological changes that are occurring in our society. Until then, anyone got a good NETS-A / ISLLC / ELCC crosswalk?

Other questions

  • Do you know of any comprehensive, high-quality, district-sponsored staff development efforts based on the NETS-A?
  • Are the NETS-A too ambitious for principals, superintendents, and/or central office administrators?
  • Which NETS-A standard is most important for principals? Which is most difficult for them to master?
  • Does your school organization and/or local university do a good job of preparing administrators to be technology leaders?