Cathy Bear on Using Standards-Based Self Assessment to Build Effective School Leaders

Hello! My name is Cathy Bear, and I am an assistant professor in the School of Education at Maryville University in St. Louis. I serve as one of four full-time faculty members in the educational leadership programs at both the master and doctoral levels.

Rad Resource: The Master of Arts and EdD in Educational Leadership are cohort-based programs designed to provide practical, experiential learning built upon the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) Standards for School Leaders (NPBEA, 2002).  In 2007, we embarked on an action research project focused on assessment of our candidates with respect to the ELCC Standards. We developed a self-assessment tool that asks candidates to assess their level of proficiency along the following continuum:

  • 0 = “I have little or no experience nor demonstrated success with this standard element.”

  • 1= “I have attained some experience with this standard element; however I have little or no demonstrated success applying the standard element to my daily practice.”

  • 2= “I have developed competence with respect to this standard element and I am able to apply these skills effectively in my daily practice.”
  • 3= “I have consistently demonstrated success in implementing this standard element, and I have a strong track record of success with attaining student achievement goals related to this standard element.”

Hot Tip: The self-assessment is used in different ways at three benchmarks in the program:

  • At the beginning of the program, candidates are asked to review their results and develop a Personal Leadership Growth Plan. The candidate then reviews this plan with the advisor and internship mentor to design experiences tailored to the candidate’s learning needs.
  • At the mid-point of the program, the candidate completes the assessment and notes areas in which he or she can demonstrate growth. The candidate writes a rationale to justify the decision to move forward on the proficiency continuum. The candidate also provides evidence of this growth in the form of documentation that becomes part of the program portfolio.
  • At the end of the program, the candidate completes a final self assessment. The candidate writes another rationale to justify movement along the continuum and provides evidence of this growth. The candidate then writes a reflection of growth over the course of the entire program.

Hot Tip: In addition to providing our candidates with a mechanism for monitoring growth, we use the results to identify strengths and weaknesses in program curricula.  We use the results to determine areas of emphasis needed for a given cohort. Our research has revealed a need to focus more attention on Standard 4.0 dealing with communication and stakeholder involvement, and on Standard 6.0 dealing with leadership within the larger context.

The research has provided us with information about each candidate’s growth and proficiency relative to the ELLC Standards. We have found this information useful in making recommendations regarding each candidate’s potential to be an effective school and/or district level leader.


National Policy Board for Educational Administration. (2002). Educational leadership constituent council standards for school leaders.

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