Through funding from the SEED-funded TEAM Lead project and support from a Stone Foundation grant, the Center for the Study of Education Policy (CSEP) at Illinois State University has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Education, American Institutes for Research (AIR) and BloomBoard to develop and sustain the Leadership for Equity (LFE) Micro-Credential Cluster. The LFE MC is based on Tennessee’s Leadership for Equity Playbook, funded through support from The Wallace Foundation, and aligns with the Professional Standards for Educational Leadership (PSEL).

The LFE MCs were developed over a year span with a design team made up of over 25 people from Illinois and Tennessee and other regions representing higher education, K-12 schools, and research organizations. The LFE MC design process also includes a research component. As such, American Institutes for Research (AIR) is conducting a content validity analyses and construct validity analyses. Additionally, AIR will conduct usability testing to examine how well the micro-credential platform meets school leader learning interests/needs.

In December 2018 and January 2019, AIR conducted two Focus Groups with 24 experienced principals from Illinois and Tennessee with strong reputations for LFE and deep understanding of educational equity. Focus group members reviewed the four LFE micro-credential competencies and indicators, then answered questions such as:

  • Do these competencies represent an essential practice in principals’ work?
  • If principals exhibit these competencies, are they considered strong equity leaders?
  • What competencies/skills might be added, deleted, or changed to better align the work?

The project is currently in the process of piloting the micro-credential with 305 principals and assistant principals nationally to examine construct validity and usability. For the pilot, participants will be required to complete one of the four LFE MCs between February 1–June 15, 2018. It is anticipated that the completion of the MC will take between 12–16 weeks.

Construct validity testing asks:

  • Does each micro-credential differentiate performance?
  • Do competencies co-vary?

Usability analyses ask:

  • Are the micro-credential directions, documents, and platform clear to principals, assistant principals or other potential users?
  • How does context support or inhibit engagement and learning?

Principals and assistant principals in the pilot represent over 10 different states and a variety of rural, suburban, urban, private, and charter school principals and assistant principals.

The LFE MCs were designed for building level leaders but based on such a positive response from district leaders to the pilot, the pilot was opened up to 105 district and organization leaders to pilot the Exploring and Deepening an Equity Mindset LFE MC. There is an interest with broadening the four LFE MCs to a series customized for district and organization leaders and work on this may begin later in 2019.

Both the Principal and the District LFE MC pilots will end on June 15, 2019. At that time, AIR will compile the results of the validation pilot to share with the LFE Design Team to make any final modifications to the LFE MCs before they go live on the BloomBoard platform.

By design, the LFE MCs were not created to be limited to specific purposes but to fit into the varied and local contexts in which states, districts or organizations would like to use them to support the in-service needs of building-level leaders.

  • In Illinois, administrators will be awarded Illinois Administrator Academy (IAA) credit for completion of LFE MC and will receive recognition for completion of the MC on their professional license.
  • In Tennessee, principals will receive 7 hours of Tennessee Academy for School Leaders (TASL) credit.
  • One university in Georgia is considering integrating the LFE MCs into their principal preparation program since all candidates in the program are currently assistant principals.
  • Another state is considering how MCs around the Professional Standards for Education Leadership (PSEL) can be built into an advanced credential.
  • BloomBoard is in the process of developing a cluster of MCs aligned to the Professional Standards for Educational Leadership (PSEL), and the four LFE MCs, which are aligned with the national PSEL standards will be part of this cluster.

The LFE MCs will be housed on the BloomBoard platform upon the completion of the pilot and available to principals and assistant principals nationally for a fee for service.