While all states include an explicit or implicit instructional leadership standard, there is state-to-state variability in the diversity and scope of language used to define how principals are evaluated as instructional leaders. After analyzing and coding the contents of instructional standards, we found that states are attempting to account for how principals are supporting teachers, supporting curriculum and instruction, making evidence-based decisions, and building a culture of learning. Each state includes some combination of these areas under its instructional standard. 

Teacher Support

In analyzing explicit and implicit instructional leadership standards' content, we were most interested in whether the standard included principals' support for teachers, and more specifically, principals’ evaluation of teachers, including observations of teacher practice, feedback, and coaching. A 2017 study conducted by the Institute of Education Sciences indicates that frequent, relevant feedback to teachers and principals can lead to improved outcomes in student achievement, and research by the the Center for Educational Leadership shows that skills in providing feedback and leading professional learning for teachers are fundamental for effective instructional leaders.

Most states (37) attempt to account for how principals are supporting teachers in their instructional standard, but there is also variability in how that is defined and how much detail is included. Standards encompass varied definitions and activities by state such as: providing ongoing, actionable feedback, conducting classroom observations, providing professional development, conducting evaluations in alignment with state regulations, providing adequate time and resources for teacher collaboration, and collaborating with staff to identify student needs.

All states include teacher support as part of their principal evaluation somewhere in their evaluation rubrics, whether as part of an explicit instructional leadership standard, implicit instructional leadership standard, or elsewhere. If teacher support was not included in the instructional standard, it was often part of a human capital management or human resource leadership standard. More than half of states (31) have a standard related to human capital management/human resource leadership that often includes evaluation, support, coaching, recruitment, and/or retention of staff. 

Curriculum & Instruction

Most (47) states include aspects related to curriculum and instruction in explicit or implicit instructional leadership standards, which encompass a variety of definitions and activities by state such as: the principal implements rigorous curricula and assessments aligned with state standards, including college and career readiness standards; ensures that all teachers design effective and rigorous standards-based units of instruction consisting of well-structured lessons with measurable outcomes; and develops assessment and accountability systems to monitor student progress. 

Evidence-Based Decision Making

Thirty states include aspects related to evidence-based decision making in explicit or implicit instructional leadership standards, which also encompass a variety of definitions and activities by state such as: uses disaggregated data to inform academic interventions, monitors and evaluates the impact of instruction, and supports professional development and instructional practices that incorporate the use of achievement data and result in increased student progress. 

Learning Culture

Over half of states include aspects related to learning culture in explicit or implicit instructional leadership standards, which include diverse definitions and activities by state such as: develops a strong, collaborative culture focused on student learning and the development of professional competencies which leads to quality instruction, and aligns all aspects of a school culture to student and adult learning.