Administrators, standards, and technology

[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?

2 Responses to “Administrators, standards, and technology”

  1. Being from outside the US, I wonder if first two standard documents are a bit too rigid and shouldn’t be reviewed to include guidelines from the NETS-A? The more I work in administration, the more I see that we need to create standards and documents that can change with the development of new strategies and technologies. It seems that it would be imperative for an administrator to be able to work with technology from an administrative view plus be able to plan with its use in mind. As for the NET-S, the second point would be one with which I would struggle. Until using technology tools becomes an expected standard, it will be difficult to “ensure that curricular design, instructional strategies, and learning environments integrate appropriate technologies to maximize learning and teaching;”.
    I don’t think these are too ambitious. In fact, they are a reality for which many schools and administrators are not being held accountable. We need to become better at using the tools that are available. High standards are what make us rise up above what we are doing. We need to recognize those who have the skills and begin to develop these teachers to help others plus give teachers the resources to use these tools in their teaching. Ambitious standards are what motivates people – some will complain they are too hard but then any standard would fit that bill for them. Can it be done? Maybe, so let’s get going and try. That’s what learning is all about!

  2. I agree with this completely, thanks for the post.

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