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Technology Standards for School Leaders Released

A consortium of more than a dozen groups released Technology Standards for School Administrators at a meeting of the National School Boards Association. "These standards will empower administrators to provide strong technology leadership," said the chairperson of the group charged with authoring those standards.

Upon arriving at Howell Elementary School, principal Darlene Brown goes directly to her desk and turns on her personal computer. While the computer is powering up, Brown checks her appointments for the day on her personal digital assistant (PDA). She logs onto her PC, opens new e-mail, and responds to the messages that require immediate answers. Then she pops a diskette into her computer's A drive and puts some finishing touches on a PowerPoint presentation. The presentation uses data downloaded from the district computer to show five years of test score progress at Howell. The accompanying PowerPoint slides detail strategies and specific steps taken to raise scores at the school. Later this morning, Brown will share her school's successful approach with a group of her colleagues so they might learn from her reform model.

Before heading off to that meeting, Brown downloads teacher Ramon Torrez's morning mathematics lesson from his online lesson plan book on the district's network. She reviews the lesson, which engages students in creating spreadsheets to document their spending habits over the last seven days; the project will become part of each student's electronic portfolio. Then Brown grabs her laptop so she can take notes as she observes Torrez in action...

"The cycle is finally complete -- teacher standards, students standards, and administrator standards. All speak with a clear, concise voice as to what is expected in regard to the use of technology in schools and school systems across our country."

-- Sheryl Abshire
District Technology Coordinator
Calcasieu Parish Public Schools
Lake Charles, Louisiana

That fictional account of Darlene Brown's morning illustrates how schools can benefit from having at their helms leaders who understand how technology can be used to present information, drive learning and school improvement, and solve problems. The recent release of technology standards and competencies for school administrators is one more step toward the day when every school will be headed by a tech-savvy principal.

"Administrators play a pivotal role in determining how well technology is used in our schools," said Jim Bosco, chairperson of the Collaborative for Technology Standards for School Administrators (TSSA), in press materials marking the release of the new standards. "In order for teachers and students to fully use technology to achieve academic goals, they need the support and vision of tech-savvy administrators. These standards will empower administrators to provide strong technology leadership."

"We are spending today on technology and digital content roughly the equivalent of our space race expenditures following Sputnik," Don Knezek, TSSA project director, told Education World. "To invest at that level without requiring savvy leadership in our schools is irresponsible."


Earlier this month, TSSA published six standards for school leaders:

  • Leadership and Vision. Educational leaders inspire a shared vision for comprehensive integration of technology and foster an environment and culture conducive to the realization of that vision.
  • Learning and Teaching. Educational leaders ensure that curricular design, instructional strategies, and learning environments integrate appropriate technologies to maximize learning and teaching.
  • Productivity and Professional Practice. Educational leaders apply technology to enhance their professional practice and to increase their own productivity and that of others.
  • Support, Management, and Operations. Educational leaders ensure the integration of technology to support productive systems for learning and administration.
  • Assessment and Evaluation. Educational leaders use technology to plan and implement comprehensive systems of effective assessment and evaluation.
  • Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues. Educational leaders understand the social, legal, and ethical issues related to technology and model responsible decision making related to these issues.

Each standard has a corresponding set of performance indicators for all school administrators. In addition, separate tasks related to the standards are identified for three administrative roles: superintendents, district-level leaders, and school principals/assistant principals.

Click here to view the complete list of standards, indicators, and tasks.


The technology standards for school administrators are the product of a grassroots effort by the TSSA Collaborative, which drew on the advice of more than 2,000 educators, policymakers, and industry representatives. "We thought it important to ensure that these standards represent a national consensus among all educational stakeholders rather than the top-down views of a few experts," explained Don Knezek, director of the TSSA Project. "Only in that way could the collaborative achieve a broad base of ownership and acceptance of the final standards document.

"From board members to concerned citizens, these standards will enable stewards of local, state, and federal resources to assess the level at which school leaders are prepared to lead technology acquisition and use," Knezek added.

Over the last two decades, the role of the school principal has evolved from being a building manager to being an instructional leader, said David Rawls, superintendent of schools in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, upon release of the standards document. "Given this transformation, today's administrators must be able to seamlessly integrate technology into the learning environment and curriculum. Technology will not only assist school leaders when assessing the impact of their efforts but also enable them to utilize data management systems to maximize technology investments to reach educational goals."

"For much too long, we've waited for standards and expectations for our school administrators to reflect the presence of technology in schools and in our society," Knezek told Education World. "Ensuring sophistication with technology among leaders in our schools will ensure that we better prepare our students for their futures and that we effectively and efficiently manage the entire enterprise that is schooling."

The TSAA Collaborative's members include the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the National School Boards Association (NSBA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2006 Education World

Updated 06/18/2002