National Educational Leadership Preparation (NELP) Standards
Changing school conditions, shifting school populations, increased expectations for student learning, and expanding knowledge on effective leadership have created new challenges and expectations for educational leaders. Clear and consistent leadership standards can assist all educational stakeholders in understanding these expectations. Over the last three years the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) have led a significant effort to revise standards that guide preparation and practice for educational leaders in the United States. The standards, named the National Educational Leadership Preparation (NELP) standards, provide guidance around education leader preparation – particularly program design, accreditation review and state program approval.
These standards were developed by a committee comprised of educators from across the country. (See committee members below) The NELP standards are aligned to the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders that detail the skills expected of school leaders; however the NELP standards provide greater guidance to novice and developing leaders.
Two sets of standards were created to provide more specific guidance based upon whether individuals are preparing for a principalship or a superintendency. Unlike the previous standards, the NELP standards were expanded to include a standard for ethics and professional norms, equity and cultural leadership and community leadership and engagement. In writing the NELP standards, the committee consulted research on preparation and practice, as well as school and district leaders, state education officials, researchers, higher-education leaders and faculty and other policy-oriented constituents.
What are the NELP Standards?
In November of 2015 the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL) were approved by the NPBEA. The PSEL Standards will be adopted or adapted by many states to guide policies concerning the practice and improvement of educational leaders (e.g., licensure, evaluation and professional learning policies). In December of 2015, a committee comprised of essential stakeholder communities from across the country was convened to develop a set of leadership preparation standards that align to the PSEL. (See committee members below) These preparation standards, formerly known as the Educational Leadership Constituent Council or ELCC standards, have been renamed the National Educational Leadership Preparation (NELP) standards and will be used to guide program design, accreditation review, and state program approval.
While aligned to the PSEL standards, the NELP standards serve a different purpose and provide greater specificity around performance expectations for beginning level building and district leaders. Whereas the PSEL standards define educational leadership broadly, the NELP standards specify what novice leaders and program graduates should know and be able to do as a result of their completion of a high quality educational leadership preparation program. Like the ELCC standards that preceded them, the NELP standards were developed specifically with the principalship and the superintendency in mind and will be used to review educational leadership programs through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) advanced program review process. There is one set of NELP standards for candidates preparing to become principals and a second set of standards for candidates seeking to become superintendents.
Developing the NELP Standards
The NELP standards address changes in the educational leadership field and respond to input from practitioners and policy leaders. In developing the NELP standards, the committee reviewed research on the preparation and practice of educational leaders and consulted with NPBEA member organizations, practicing school and district leaders, state education officials, researchers, higher-education leaders and faculty, and other policy-oriented constituents. Two other sources were highly influential in the development of the NELP standards: the 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leadership (PSEL), and 2) CAEP requirements for Specialty Professional Association (SPA) standards.
Due to the important role that the new PSEL and CAEP SPA requirements played in the development of the NELP Standards, the committee’s work involved a number of significant design challenges.
Several other CAEP requirements for the review of specialty areas presented additional design challenges. For example, the NELP standards needed to be written so that each concept in an element appeared in the language of the standard. Additionally, each standard and element had to be both measurable and based on research. While the PSEL standards were developed using three sources of information (field knowledge, research and core educational values), the NELP standards are firmly rooted in empirical research. Finally, CAEP allows an eighth standard for specialty areas that is focused on the clinical experiences. As a result, both the NELP building and district level standards include an eighth standard that articulates expectations concerning a substantive and high quality educational leadership internship.
When compared to the 2011 ELCC standards there are several important differences.
Following the revision of the draft standards, the committee will present the standards to the NPBEA for their review and approval. If approved, a number of other activities will commence.
The committee convened to develop the NELP standards includes practicing leaders, professional association representatives, educational leadership faculty, educational leadership preparation program leaders and college leadership. Committee members were selected based on the stakeholders they represented as well as the expertise they brought to the committee. Members included: Joan Auchter, NASSP; Rosemarie Young, NAESP; Tom Bellamy, University of Washington; Monica Byrne Jimenez, Hostra University; David Chard, Southern Methodist University; David DeMathews, University of Texas-El Paso; Paul Katnik, Missouri State Education Agency; Susan Korach, University of Denver; Glenn Pethel, Gwinnet County Public Schools; L. Oliver Robinson, AASA; Pamela Tucker, University of Virginia; and NELP Committee Chair Michelle Young, UCEA. Also Saroja Barnes, CCSSO; James Berry, NCPEA; and Joseph Murphy, Vanderbilt University served on the committee in an ex officio capacity. Project consultants included Irv Richardson, CCSSO and Honor Fede, NAESP.