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Press Release

Monday, December 07, 2015

New, First-Ever Standards for Supervisors of School Principals Aim to Change the Position from Compliance Officer to Coach

New Standards Ultimately Will Help Principals Improve Teaching and Learning
Contact:Olympia Meolaolympia.meola@ccsso.org202-336-7071

Washington, D.C. (December 7, 2015) - The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today released new standards that provide a clear, practical definition of what the supervisors of school principals should know and be able to do to improve the effectiveness of principals.

With support from The Wallace Foundation, a team of educators from across the nation has spent more than a year developing these standards for a position long focused on bureaucratic compliance but now increasingly becoming critical to developing outstanding school principals who can improve teaching and learning.

The eight 2015 Model Principal Supervisor Professional Standards are the first-ever standards developed for supervisors of school principals and are voluntary. They are designed for state education agencies and local school districts to help recruit, select, support and evaluate supervisors of principals. States and districts likely will adapt them to local needs.

Traditionally, those who supervise principals - typically central office managers within a school district - have focused on ensuring that school principals comply with local policies and state regulations. That compliance role is changing as recent research suggests that principal supervisors can positively affect student results by helping principals grow as instructional leaders.

"These new standards bring much-needed clarity to the role of principal supervisors," said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. "The standards will enable states and districts to elevate the role of supervisors so they can focus on helping principals improve instruction, learning and ultimately student achievement."

While research has long shown that school principals influence student achievement, the work of their supervisors is a relatively new area of study. A recent report by the Council of the Great City Schools highlighted many challenges with the position. Nationwide, there is no consistency across school districts about the role. Job descriptions and titles vary. Some districts split the work of a principal supervisor among several people, while other districts appoint a single administrator. All too often, principal supervisors lack the training and support to help principals build their capacity as instructional leaders. And, while most principal supervisors are former principals who know how to run a school, they aren't necessarily prepared to coach principals.

The new principal supervisor standards note that, with the right training and support, principal supervisors can assess and evaluate principals' current leadership practices and identify professional learning opportunities likely to improve the quality of teaching, learning and student achievement. They also can ensure that the principals' work and vision aligns with district goals, and that the central office effectively supports school leaders, schools and student success.

The eight standards cover a range of topics and include actions principal supervisors can take to meet each standard. The standards cover how supervisors can help individual principals grow as instructional leaders, how to engage principals in evaluations and how to help principals foster an environment that supports students' cultural diversity and learning needs. Another standard says principal supervisors should advocate for the equitable distribution of district resources to meet students' diverse needs. The standards also describe how principal supervisors should approach their own professional development.

Under the leadership of CCSSO, a 12-person committee of educators worked on the principal supervisor standards for more than a year. Its co-chairs were David Volrath, director of leadership development initiatives for the Maryland State Department of Education, and MaryAnn Jobe, director of leadership development for AASA, The School Superintendents Association.  

"Having principal supervisors spend significant time in schools coaching principals is a relatively new concept for most school districts," said Jobe of AASA. "As a result, districts don't yet have the necessary structures in place to support that type of work. It will take some time for districts to redesign the role of principal supervisors so they are spending most of their time building principals' capacity."

The standards, which were released today at the national Learning Forward conference in Prince George's County, Md., are grounded in the refreshed standards for school leaders, known as the 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, which were finalized in late November. Those standards, formerly known as the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC), can be found here. The Wallace Foundation provided grants to CCSSO for the leadership standards work.

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The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.