AComparative Study of the Standardization of School Leadership Development in the USA and SouthAfricaClarenceG Williams(University of the Western Cape)
In 2007 theAdvancedCertificate in Education: School Management andLeadership (ACE: SML) was introduced in South Africa.The ACE: SML was the first attempt at the standardization of leadership and management development and was based partly on theISLLC standardsthat were introduced in the USA in 1996.Acomparative studyof thestandardizationofschool leadership developmentin the USA and SouthAfrica is thus justified.The aim of this paper is to determine what lessons, if any, can be learnt from the USA experience atthestage when anAdvancedDiploma: School Leadership and Management (Adv:Dip(SLM) isbeingdeveloped. Hopefully this study will help alertroleplayersto some of the pitfalls that should beavoided.
The study of the standardization of leadership development in the United Statesisbased on a literature survey of the various critiques of theISLLCstandards.
Thisstudy of the standardization of leadershipdevelopmentin South Africaisbased ona review of officialACE: SML documents, official policy documents relating to the role and development of school leaders and managers, as well the results of some South African empirical research on the implementation of the ACE: SML.
1. Theorigins ofthe standardization of school leadership development in the USA and SouthAfrica
TheNational Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA)establishedthe Interstate School Leadership Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) to create a set of professional standards for schoolleadership.Each NPBEA member organization was required to obtain membership input, and the draft ISLLC standards were distributed amongstmemberorganizations and other professional groups and a research panel for input.Certaintactical decisions were taken to ensure the acceptance of the ISLLCstandards.
The unit standards that formed the basis of the ACE: SML programme were generated by theStandards Generating Body (SGB) made up of reps ofthe national Department of Education, 6 provincial education departments, 6 universities, 1technikon, 3 primary schools and 8 other organizations.The draft unit standards were published in theGovernment Gazetteof 11 June 2004, and commentshadto besubmitted,just more than a monthlater.The unit standards were given a measure of legitimacy by the establishment of theNMLC.
2. Theempirical base of the ISLLC standards and the SGB unit standards
It is claimed that empiricalresearch was done on the profiles of effectiveleaders.The developmentof the ISLLC standards was also influenced by the major changes that were occurring in the schooling enterprise, more specifically inteachingand learning, the ways in which schools were organized andmanaged.These claims were contested by fierce critics like Fenwick English who claimed the ISLLC standards were based onuntestedandunvalidatedassumptions regardingthe operation of schools.
TheSGB consulted some international authorities regarding the unit standards for school leaders andmanagers, and variouspolicy documents in SouthAfrica.LikeISLLC the SGB has also not madeexplicit theempirical knowledge base on which the unit standards werescaffolded.BushandJackson found marked similarities between the unit standards and the contentof leadership development programmes atvarious centresindeveloped countries.
3. Themanagerialistorientation of the ISLLC standards and the SGB unit standards
Acritic like Hessclaimsthat ISLLC had adopted a “dismissive stance toward conventional management theory” in which aspectssuch as the management of finances and physical facilities aredownplayed.Some critics claim that the prominence given to efficiency and technical skills is indicative of the business orientation of the ISLLC standards. English avers that the standardization of roles is indicative of this orientation. Inthis framework schools are regarded as instruments for producing “corporate workers who will ‘fit in’ to the existing economic hegemonic order”.
Heystekis critical of themanagerialistorientation of the ACE:SML, while Bush justifiesthe focus onmanagerialismin the ACE: SML especially for school leaders and managers at South Africa’s underperforming schools where the main concern is making the schoolsfunctional.Contrary to the criticism levelled at the ISLLC standards, sufficient attention is given to the day-to-day management of the school in the SGB unitstandards without neglecting the functions of teaching and learning and people orientation.
4. Considerationof the notion of social justice
According to Englishastandards-based education places emphasis on “interiorities of schooling” while “any concept of social justice dealing with the school’s exteriorities is vitiated”.Englishalsoclaims that the ISLLC standards are rooted in what he terms “cultural forms and perspectives that are themselves barriers to the very agenda (such as social justice) that ISLLC claims to support”.This results in the relegation of context to a position of neglect, and to the development of a set of rubrics that is intended to apply for all times, places and leaders.
The socio-economic context isneglected in the unit standards in spite of theacknowledgementof the role that diverse contexts play in the effectiveness ofschools.In the unit standard that is meant to deal with the socio-economic context thefocus is on acquainting school leaders and managers with regulative legislative and policy frameworks affecting schools.In the ACE: SML we have genericinstead of situated approaches toleadership and management.
5. Theinfluence of the ISLLC standards and the unit standards in the profession
By 2005 46 states in the USA had adopted or adapted the ISLLC standards, or developed their own state standards on the basis of the ISLLC standards.In many of these states the ISLLC standards have become a requirement for accreditation of leadership development programmes, the basis for the evaluation of school principals and for the determination of principal licensure.Murphy refersto ISLLC as “one of the most significant reshaping initiatives to appear in the profession in recent times”.The ISLLC model has since been emulated in many different countries, notably Australia, Canada, England and South Africa.However,manyhave questioned the efficacy of the ISLLCstandards.
TheSGB unit standards had limited scope and influence as they were intended as programme standards rather than policystandards.In South Africa there isno clear understanding of the role of school leadership andmanagement. Consequently, theSGB unit standards arenotused as the basis for the continuing professional development of school leaders and managers by educationdistricts, nor does it serve as the basis for principal evaluation and to determine licensure. Thusthe SGB unit standards only serve as the base of the ACE: SML programmes.There is no empirical evidence that the ACE: SML resulted in improved teaching and learning.
6. Thereview and revision of the ISLLC standards and the ACE: SML
In 2006 adecision was taken to examine the validity and effectiveness of thestandards.The result was the slightly revised version of the ISLLC standards, called the ISLLC 2008 standards. To allay concerns regarding the empirical base, ISLLC provided a representative sample of the empirical research on which the ISLLC 2008 standards were based.In 2012 the ISLLC standards were again subjected to review and revision. This time the revisions were much more drastic. Greater emphasis was placed on instructional leadership and the factors outside the classroom that impact significantly on teaching and learning.
In South Africa the first field test of the ACE: SML involving only five universities and the MatthewGoniweSchool of Leadership and Governance was evaluated.The evaluation focused on various aspects of the first field test, like contact sessions, teaching materials, mentoring, networking andassessment, but not on the unit standards.The ACE: SML is currently being revised and will most probably be replaced by the ADE: SLM in compliance with revised MRTEQ. The new curriculum will be loosely based on the South African Standard forPrincipalshipand the existing unit standards.
Concludingremarks – lessons learnt
What is required is acommon understanding of what theSAeducation system expects of those who are entrusted with the leadership and management of itsschools.Such a common understanding of the role of school leaders and managers should be the product of a collaborative effort of all stakeholders and role players.This common understanding of the role of school leaders and managers should form the basis of all forms of professional development, the evaluation of school leaders and managers, and the determination of principal licensure.The empirical basison which thecommon understanding is based should be made explicit therebyensuring transparency and accountability.The role of the school leader and manager should take cognisance of the exteriorities of schooling so that the notion of social justice can addressed.The role of the school leader and manager should be subjected to regular review and revision to ensure its relevance.