The social fabric of the society is dramatically changing. Globalization has brought many changes including political, social, economic, racial, culture, religion etc. Education systems is basically dependent on the above and so changes on any of the above systems affect in one way or another how education systems are run either directly or indirectly. Unfortunately the aforenamed changes are not always positive. Social-economic status in our states is slowly taking the negative direction and inevitably our educational systems are following suite. Technological advance is also another thing to consider while looking at educational systems. Increasing reliance on technology is posing a great challenge on the school systems since change from industrial to information technology era is becoming indispensable.
The success of any organization depends heavily on its leadership and school leadership is thus not an exception. The Interstate Leadership Licensure Standards Consortium (ISLLC) was established in 1994 with the aim of trying to find an ideal structure of leadership that would bridge the gap between the post industrial era school leadership and the current; information technological era leadership in collaboration with other organizations such as National Commission of Excellence in Educational Administration, National Association of Elementary School Principals, Association of Teachers Association among many others. This initiative was fuelled by grants and funds from charitable and stakeholders like Danforth Foundation. The interstate organization is comprised of 24 states including Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, California, Arkansas to name but a few.
Everything rises and falls on leadership and therefore school leadership is vital if schools are to succeed in producing all around students. Due to social economic changes affecting our world today, school leadership is not only expected to be professionally oriented but diverse touching almost every aspect affecting the community. Though leaders are supposed to be strong educators, their political inclination, moral fiber, religion background, racial and cultural affiliation among others are important aspects and should be given consideration when training future leaders. There is nothing that is static in the current world and therefore traditional types of leadership will not work in any given modern society. Thanks to globalization both inter and intra community integration has been made easy, however, this has brought about the challenge of dealing with issues including communication, different culture and religion adoption and all other adjustments that comes with it.
- Standard 1: An education leader promotes the success of every student by facilitating the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by all stakeholders
This first standard is concerned with leadership that implement a shared vision and mission, collects and uses data for both identifications of goals and promote organizational learning. It is also involved in monitoring and revising of plans.
- Standard 2: An education leader promotes the success of every student by advocating, nurturing and sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth.
The second standard is meant to ensure that the culture of the school is maintained. This is in terms of learning and maintaining high standard of education. It is generally supposed to ensure that students attain high quality education by creating a motivating learning environment where both leaders and students utilize all the available resources including time well
- Standard 3: An education leader promotes the success of every student by ensuring management of the organization, operation, and resources for a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment.
The third standard deals mainly with the management and operational systems. It is here that human and technological resources are obtained and allocated appropriately. Issues of welfare of both the students and non are dealt with within this standard.
- Standard 4: An education leader promotes the success of every student by collaborating with faculty and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources.
Since learning institutions are part of the community, the fourth standard is concerned with collecting and analyzing data from the community that will create a conducive educational environment. The standard also provides for creation of an environment though which both the community and the students will accommodate each others’ core values. It also provides for strengthened family and caregivers relationships.
- Standard 5: An education leader promotes the success of every student by acting with integrity, fairness, and in an ethical manner.
This standard ensures that all things are run and dealt with within certain set rules where morals and social responsibility are maintained. At the same time, students learn to safeguard their political inclinations without infringing into other peoples’ political, social, religion etc rights and views. Students are taught to be responsible in their decision making which results to promotion of social justice and smooth running of the schools and their environments.
- Standard 6: An education leader promotes the success of every student by understanding, responding to, and influencing the political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context.
This standard is involved in social work where issues like advocacy for children and caregivers are dealt with. The school leadership is expected to influence the political and national aspects in favor of students’ benefit. they are also expected to analyze emerging trends and act accordingly by establishing leadership strategies that will adapt the task ahead of them.
As discussed earlier in this paper today’s school leadership is not just about high grades but any effective leadership should be concerned with an all around kind of leadership. If that is the case then school leadership should be a concern for all concerned parties right from the inception of any school. Traditionally a few “leaders” most likely at the State and district level met in enclosed boardrooms and made a whole set of dos and don’ts for students, teaching and non-teaching staff. However, according to Thomas Sergiovanni that should not be the case at all. Sergiovanni is of the view that truly effective schools are those that have a shared covenant clearly articulating the school’s core values and providing a standard by which actions will be judged. He is of the opinion that leaders should not be in the business of formulating covenants but should follow his thumb of rule which is do as I do and not as I say meaning that leadership should be in the forefront of obeying the covenant. He goes ahead and criticizes those who ignore spirituality in their working environment stating that spiritualism gives someone strength not only while at worship centers but in all dimensions of life. He therefore urges leaders to rule from their spiritual resources such as human dignity and servanthood and not just follow simple human rules. Though Thomas acknowledges that the main business of any school is learning, he is of the opinion that leadership affects school climate which in turn affects school performances. He therefore advocates for school leadership that serves the school purposes.
A school leadership that is hard enough to demand anything from all stakeholders but at the same time soft enough to encourage the fainting heart. Thomas says that we basically needs a leadership that is involved in making covenant, be there to support all stakeholders including students and community members by doing as it says, and lastly a school leadership that acknowledges sourcing strength from their spirituality. Thomas believes that true leadership emanates from the heart, a heart that wants to serve.
This above kind of servant leadership is also supported by Robert Greenleaf who says that servant leadership theory begins with a natural feeling that one wants to serve. This kind of feeling is based on one’s conscious which makes the leader consider the needs of others first. The other type of leadership that is closely related to this ethical based leadership is transformation leadership by Burns (1978), where there is collaborative engagement where both leaders and followers are concerned with each others motivation and morality. Moral leadership theory is also closely related with transactional leadership theory where one person takes an initiative that is geared towards exchange of values between the leader and the follower. Kouzes and Posner (1994) credibility theory is not different from Moral theory since the four characteristics that were found to be qualification for leadership were also moral based. These included honesty, visionary, inspiring and competency. Moreover, the four characteristic were validated by the fact that they were shared across many cultures and national boundaries.
The other four frames theories of leadership include Structural Frame which is basically traditional way of leadership where is there is an authoritarian chain of command and set of structured hierarchical management systems, the second frame is Human Resource which is mainly based on shared values, collective decision making and concern for community empowerment. The third frame is Political which is based on influence, negotiation, mergers and coalitions and bargaining. Symbolic frame is the fourth frame and this is based on shared sense of mission, values, and belief where a leader is expected to act as a facilitator to decisions made and actions taken.
Other leadership theories include contingency theory where a leader is given leadership based on his personality. The factors that are considered for this kind of leadership are leader-member relations, task structure, and position power. However, this kind of leadership though widely used has shown conflicting results (Barge 1994). The other kind of leadership theory is Path-Goal theory where followers are impacted by their leaders direction. There is also Hershey and Blanchards situational leadership where leaders are guided by their follower’s ability to perform. Adjustments in leadership are done according the followers performances. The style of leadership here is mainly intuitive delegation, participation, selling and telling. Barge (1994) however thinks that this kind of leadership offer limited support for part of the theory. The other type of leadership theory is the Substitutes Theory that measures leaders’ behaviors by the organizational results.
Amesterdam, Johnson, Monrad and Tonnsen were more concerned with the practicability of current State and national standards. They therefore passed legislation that would require an annual evaluation of one year and multi year contracted building principals. The evaluation process is the responsibility of district’s chief school administrator which must look at the individual’s weakness and strengths. For the evaluation to be effective there must be an agreed criteria and procedures which have not been established as yet but there are discussions at the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC). The set of standards that have been influencing public school leadership since 1996 needs to be revised and updated to reflect a more practical approach as opposed to local theoretical approach. At the same time many universities have adopted ISLLC standards which are National based standards, in order to prepare their students for passing individual state licensure exams. However as we said earlier in this paper, leadership structures need to be revised to maintain relevancy in a world that is moving so fast. Since ISLLC standards have been shaping the leadership structure for 12 years, there need to be an objective review of how ISLLC standards have impacted building leadership and also look into their viability for the future.
One of the evaluation project that was done in the State of New Jersey by providing a more detailed description of the standards together with real time information to the community in order to measure critical elements such as skills, and competence against the current chief school administrators. The process did not run smoothly since there was no consistent processes and formats of evaluation. Many principals did not also find the process useful since there were claims of political interferences. David and Hensley (2000) therefore suggested a method of evaluation that contained both criteria and a defined process of evaluation.
School leadership has a difficult time while seeking to ensure that students acquire virtues such as respect to other students of different values, races, religions, and so on. It is even more difficult when the indigenous students are asked to care for foreigners just like they would care for their own. It is for this reason that there was a consensus in mid 1980s that new leadership is required for emerging societies if there was to be any success in schools.
It became imperative to change how new leadership would be identified, trained, evaluated and assimilated into the schools. It was also clear that despite there being different sets of standardized standards, there were three fundamentals factors that all the leaders needed to consider. The three aspects included; knowledge which basically tackles the credibility of the quality of education; dispositions, which deals with the aspect of social issues integration and performance which is basically a combination of both knowledge and dispositions, it was clear that the three were simply inseparable.
The necessity for change of leadership surfaced in early 1980s when there was need for reforms in public schools in America. Public schools came under much criticism and the demand for improving teaching, testing and learning greatly increased. As a result it clearly emerged that there needed to change not only on the actually learning itself but also on the management and the learning of the school. Some of the key issues that came out strongly during the search for reforms were that student’s performance needed to be improved all through from school level up to graduation. This brought about the need to lengthen school days and periods an adjustment which shifted the process of making policies from local district level to state level. However the bureaucratic process created by the involvement of the government became as a stumbling block to the smooth learning of schools since rules took time to adjust especially with the introduction of foreign students and students from low income backgrounds whose needs including different learning styles and languages needed special attention. Outstandingly, despite their being different concerns and calls for educational reforms structure, the need for children’s well being was paramount and in fact a No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was enacted
While under the district policies superintendents duties included promoting student’s success and efforts of the school board, keep the district focused on professional success, plan and administer activities according to the guidance of the school board among many others, it was apparent that the district policies were only specific to specific district which was not practicable after the introduction of governments’ involvement in the running of the schools. Standardized systems including ISLLC, AASA and National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) were adopted and as a result district policies now are of minimal use.
ISLLC standards are common set of standards developed by a national body of departments of education in originally 24 states though currently adopted by 35 states. Since 1980s there have been various reforms on school leadership which has led to the widely adoption of the ISLLC standards. ISLLC standard for school leaders focuses on all success of all students by ensuring that learning is all around meaning that both students and the community are responsible for each other’s behavior. It emphases on the fact that a school leader must be educational as opposed to non traditional leadership where school superintendents come from other sectors and not necessarily from an educational background. An ISLLC leader is expected to ensure that no child is left behind as far as quality education is concerned. He is expected to achieve the NCLB goals by ensuring that there is a culture of learning especially math and science subjects that are considered difficult.
ISLLC leadership standards also emphasis on an administrator who is not only an educational leader but promotes success of all students by ensuring that the students understand the importance of the school culture and discipline. This is meant to bring up a student who knows how to adhere to rules and regulations which instead creates conducive learning environment for both himself, and his colleagues despite their national, religion, political and all other different backgrounds. As a matter of fact, most states have adopted ISLLS leadership standards as they provide room for common language and leadership strategies for improving schools which are not performing as expected. (Essel, Karen and Holloway 2002)
ISLLC leadership is also concerned with educational leadership which again promotes students’ success by leading them to understand, and participate in all other aspects that affect a community. These aspects include political affiliation, social-economic factors, religious and cultural background etc. The said school administrator encourages students to collaborate with families and the society in general in order to mobilize the community resources for the community good. This would include the community allowing the students to practice their leadership skills in dealing with the community issues. Above all, the ISLLC certified leader is expected to act with integrity, without favoritism and morally sound. ISLLC leadership standards have been utilized by many other States.
Examination boards and educational accreditation center for example National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) have used ISLLC standards to form their own standards. (Essel, Karen and Holloway 2002)
Having combined an all around approach and especially the emphasis of a leader to demonstrate their capacity to link knowledge with practice, the six ISLLC structure became the most workable principal licensure. However despite ISLLC standards forming a platform for restructuring principal licensure, they are not specific when it comes to not only the knowledge needed but also the how the knowledge can be utilized so that they can help already existing school leaders who would otherwise use the standards to guide students who are already have negative racial, ethnic and social-economic mentalities. Again, ISLLC standards have no systems and structures put in place that can penetrate and affect either the governance of schools or their culture. Moreover, despite the standards providing the foundation for the profession, according to Kelly and Peterson (2002) these standards do not provide the know how of identifying effective school leaders. In addition, despite the fact that the ISLLC standards provide a common framework for superintendents training and preparation, they still do not provide the much needed improving skills and knowledge to veteran’s school leaders who attained their qualification long before the ISLLC standards were established. As a result, there is a plastic change in schools since there is an adoption of the standards but there is no personnel to effect them.
Since the 1996 ISLLC standards were meant for training campus leaders and NCATE together with the AASA were written for campus Superintendents and administrators and any other central offices except the business field, there is need to combine all these standards in order to attain an improved professional curriculum and also avoid ISLLC standards dominance so that other standards can be utilized as well. As a matter of fact, AASA standards are believed to be the best for training curriculum for superintendents since they focus on strategic aspects of a trainees work. In addition, although reformers continue to provide restructure of preparation curriculum, it is imperative that they continue researching since as we said earlier nothing is static. All areas of life are changing including the political, social-economic, the society fiber etc and as we also discussed earlier when the afore mentioned changes schools can not be left behind since the changing systems forms the foundation of schools. It is therefore imperative that the school leaders’ curriculum include techniques to improve student learning, allow for shared leadership so as to sustain long term change and also ensure that data is utilized to manage standards-based reform. The said curriculums must also have a provision for school leaders to learn while at work or have provisions for internships. As we said earlier, technology is quickly advancing and therefore it is essential for the curriculum to include not only the use of technology but ensure that there is an improvement of technological equipments. (Mazzeo and Christopher 2003)”
From the above discussion it is apparent that there will not be static standardized standards since the world is quickly changing in all aspects. Just as there will always be need for change either in political systems of any given country for example, so will there always be need for change in school leadership. The only thing that will aid in meeting emerging challenges is in my view having a forecast in all aspects of life. This will demand that school leadership curriculum change according to future insight. This will be made possible by there being active research and development departments that will inform policymakers of the necessary future demands. The policymakers will in turn be expected not to dumb R&D recommendations in libraries as has been witnessed before, but instead work and provide for them despite the cost and adjustments needed. Finally it is important to remember that change must come and if one does change, change will change them.
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