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Ed Leadership Blog: Changing Standards for School Leaders

Are you a school leader, or do you aspire to be one? Staying up-to-date on news and trends in your field will help you proactively lead schools. Each month, faculty members in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies blog about topics to advance your career. Teacher leaders, principals, school technology leaders, and superintendents may want to bookmark this pageThis month’s Ed Leadership Blog is written by Dr. Lu Young, who served as the chief academic officer of Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, Ky., and before that, superintendent of Jessamine County Schools. She is associate clinical professor at the UK College of Education.

By Dr. Lu Young

photo of Dr. Lu YoungAs a new school administrator in the late 90s, I cut my teeth on the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium standards – more commonly referred to as ISLLC. My ed leadership studies preparation program at the University of Kentucky was focused on developing in its candidates the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that were inherent in ISLLC.  Subsequent to the first publication of ISLLC in 1996, the standards were updated in 2008 and have been used as the basis for P12 educational leadership preparation and practice in nearly every state. 

Fast forward to 2015 and ISLLC was in desperate need of a refresh. The standards themselves weren’t focused clearly enough on the work of school-level leaders; they weren’t student-centered enough; they were lacking in critical areas of leadership around equity and cultural responsiveness.  Enter PSEL – the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders. Promulgated in 2015, PSEL is rapidly replacing ISLLC across the U.S., serving as the foundation for preparation and guiding the practice of school leaders. In my own state, Kentucky, PSEL is now required for all university preparation programs and we expect that regulation will soon be revised to replace ISLLC with PSEL as the basis for principal evaluation.

On a personal note – I’m a fan. PSEL has expanded from six ISLLC standards to ten, but the standards themselves are laser-focused on students at the center and they embody whole-child language and sentiments. Standard 5, for example, is entitled Community of Care and Support for Students and every standard introductory statement ends with the phrase to promote each student’s academic success and well-being.

I won’t press for the hard sell here, but I urge you to check out the PSEL standards. If you’re a school leader, or aspiring to be one, I think you’ll find them to be illustrative of the high-quality leadership we need in today’s schools.  If you’d like more information, you can also check out Episode 1 of our 40-minute Focus webinar series.