California Professional Standards for Education Leaders (CPSEL)


A free resource provided by WestEd, an ACSA Partner. For sources and footnotes, please see the original toolkit.

Standard 1: Development and implementation of a shared vision

Education leaders facilitate the development and implementation of a shared vision of learning and growth of all students.

Element 1A: Student-centered vision

Leaders shape a vision that uses multiple measures of data and focuses on equitable access, opportunities, and outcomes for all students.

Example indicators:

  • 1A-1 Advance support for the academic, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, behavioral, and physical development of each learner.
  • 1A-2 Cultivate multiple learning opportunities and support systems that build on student assets and address student needs.
  • 1A-3 Address achievement and opportunity disparities between student groups, with attention to those with special needs; cultural, racial, and linguistic differences; and disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
  • 1A-4 Emphasize the expectation that all students will meet content and performance standards.

Element 1B: Developing shared vision

Leaders engage others in a collaborative process to develop a vision of teaching and learning that is shared and supported by all stakeholders.

Example indicators:

  • 1B-1 Embrace diverse perspectives and craft consensus about the vision and goals.
  • 1B-2 Communicate the vision so that the staff and school community understand it and use it for decision-making.
  • 1B-3 Build shared accountability to achieve the vision by distributing leadership roles and responsibilities among staff and community.
  • 1B-4 Align the vision and goals with local, state, and federal education laws and regulations.

Element 1C: Vision planning and implementation

Leaders guide and monitor decisions, actions, and outcomes using the shared vision and goals.

Example indicators:

  • 1C-1 Include all stakeholders in a process of continuous improvement (reflection, revision, and modification) based on the systematic review of evidence and progress.
  • 1C-2 Use evidence (including, but not limited to, student achievement, attendance, behavior and school climate data, research, and best practices) to shape and revise plans, programs, and activities that advance the vision.
  • 1C-3 Marshal, equitably allocate, and efficiently use human, fiscal, and technological resources aligned with the vision of learning for all students.

Standard 2: Instructional leadership

Education leaders shape a collaborative culture of teaching and learning, informed by professional standards and focused on student and professional growth.

Element 2A: Professional learning culture

Leaders promote a culture in which staff engage in individual and collective professional learning that results in their continuous improvement and high performance.

Example indicators:

  • 2A-1 Establish coherent, research-based professional learning aligned with organizational vision and goals for educator and student growth.
  • 2A-2 Promote professional learning plans that focus on real situations and specific needs related to increasing the learning and well-being of all staff and students.
  • 2A-3 Capitalize on the diverse experiences and abilities of staff to plan, implement, and assess professional learning.
  • 2A-4 Strengthen staff trust, shared responsibility, and leadership by instituting structures and processes that promote collaborative inquiry and problem solving.

Element 2B: Curriculum and instruction

Leaders guide and support the implementation of standards-based curriculum, instruction, and assessments that address student expectations and outcomes.

Example indicators:

  • 2B-1 Develop a shared understanding of adopted standards-based curriculum that reflects student content and performance expectations.
  • 2B-2 Promote and monitor the use of state frameworks and guides that offer evidence-based instructional and support strategies to increase learning for diverse student assets and needs. 2B-3 Provide access to a variety of resources that are needed for the effective instruction and differentiated support of all students.
  • 2B-4 Guide and monitor the alignment of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional practice.

Element 2C: Assessment and accountability

Leaders develop and use assessment and accountability systems to monitor, improve, and extend educator practice, program outcomes, and student learning.

Example indicators:

  • 2C-1 Define clear purposes, goals, and working agreements for collecting and sharing information about professional practice and student outcomes.
  • 2C-2 Guide staff and the community in regular disaggregation and analysis of local and state student assessment results and program data.
  • 2C-3 Use information from a variety of sources to guide program and professional learning planning, implementation, and revisions.
  • 2C-4 Use professional expectations and standards to guide, monitor, support, and supervise to improve teaching and learning.
  • 2C-5 Apply a variety of tools and technology to gather feedback, organize and analyze multiple data sources, and monitor student progress directed toward improving teaching and learning.

Standard 3: Management and learning environment

Education leaders manage the organization to cultivate a safe and productive learning and working environment.

Element 3A: Operations and facilities

Leaders provide and oversee a functional, safe, and clean learning environment.

Example indicators:

  • 3A-1 Systematically review the physical plant and grounds to ensure that they are safe, meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, and comply with conditions that support accessibility for all students.
  • 3A-2 Collaborate with the district to monitor and maintain student services (e.g., food, transportation) that contribute to student learning, health, and welfare.
  • 3A-3 Manage the acquisition, distribution, and maintenance of equipment, materials, and technology needed to meet the academic, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, and physical requirements of students.
  • 3A-4 Work with stakeholders and experts to plan and implement emergency and risk management procedures for individuals and the site.

Element 3B Plans and procedures

Leaders establish structures and employ policies and processes that support students to graduate ready for college and career.

Example indicators:

  • 3B-1 Develop schedules and assign placements that are student-centered and maximize instructional time and staff collaboration.
  • 3B-2 Manage legal and contractual agreements and storage of confidential records (both paper and electronic) to ensure student security and confidentiality.
  • 3B-3 Set clear working agreements that support sharing problems, practices, and results within a safe and supportive environment.
  • 3B-4 Engage stakeholders in using problem-solving and decision-making processes and distributed leadership to develop, monitor, evaluate, and revise plans and programs.

Element 3C: Climate

Leaders facilitate safe, fair, and respectful environments that meet the intellectual, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, and physical needs of each learner.

Example indicators:

  • 3C-1 Strengthen school climate through participation, engagement, connection, and a sense of belonging among all students and staff.
  • 3C-2 Implement a positive and equitable student responsibility and behavior system with teaching, intervention and prevention strategies and protocols that are clear, fair, incremental, restorative, culturally responsive, and celebrate student and school achievement.
  • 3C-3 Consistently monitor, review, and respond to attendance, disciplinary, and other relevant data to improve school climate and student engagement and ensure that management practices are free from bias and equitably applied to all students.

Element 3D: Fiscal and human resources

Leaders align fiscal and human resources and manage policies and contractual agreements that build a productive learning environment.

Example indicators:

  • 3D-1 Provide a clear rationale for decisions and distribute resources equitably to advance a shared vision and goals focused on the needs of all students.
  • 3D-2 Work with the district and school community to focus on both short- and long-term fiscal management.
  • 3D-3 Actively direct staff hiring and placement to match staff capacity with student academic and support goals.
  • 3D-4 Engage staff in professional learning and formative assessments with specific feedback for continuous growth.
  • 3D-5 Conduct personnel evaluations to improve teaching and learning, in keeping with district and state policies.
  • 3D-6 Establish and monitor expectations for staff behavior and performance, recognizing positive results and responding to poor performance and/or inappropriate or illegal behavior directly and in a timely and systematic manner.

Standard 4: Family and community engagement

Education leaders collaborate with families and other stakeholders to address diverse student and community interests and mobilize community resources.

Element 4A: Parent and family engagement

Leaders meaningfully involve all parents and families, including underrepresented communities, in student learning and support programs.

Example indicators:

  • 4A-1 Establish a welcoming environment for family participation and education by recognizing and respecting diverse family goals and aspirations for students.
  • 4A-2 Follow guidelines for communication and participation established in federal and state mandates, district policies, and legal agreements.
  • 4A-3 Solicit input from and communicate regularly with all parents and families in ways that are accessible and understandable.
  • 4A-4 Engage families with staff to establish academic programs and supports that address individual and collective student assets and needs.
  • 4A-5 Facilitate a reciprocal relationship with families that encourages them to assist the school and to participate in opportunities that extend their capacity to support students.

Element 4B: Community partnerships

Leaders establish community partnerships that promote and support students to meet performance and content expectations and graduate ready for college and career.

Example indicators

  • 4B-1 Incorporate information about family and community expectations and needs into decision-making and activities.
  • 4B-2 Share leadership responsibility by establishing community, business, institutional, and civic partnerships that invest in and support the vision and goals.
  • 4B-3 Treat all stakeholder groups with fairness and respect, and work to bring consensus on key issues that affect student learning and well-being.
  • 4B-4 Participate in local activities that engage staff and community members in communicating school successes to the broader community.

Element 4C: Community resources and services

Leaders leverage and integrate community resources and services to meet the varied needs of all students.

Example indicators:

  • 4C-1 Seek out and collaborate with community programs and services that assist students who need academic, mental health, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, physical, or other support to succeed in school.
  • 4C-2 Build mutually beneficial relationships with external organizations to coordinate the use of school and community facilities.
  • 4C-3 Work with community emergency and welfare agencies to develop positive relationships. 4C-4 Secure community support to sustain existing resources and add new resources that address emerging student needs.

Standard 5: Ethics and integrity

Education leaders make decisions, model, and behave in ways that demonstrate professionalism, ethics, integrity, justice, and equity and hold staff to the same standard.

Element 5A: Reflective practice

Leaders act upon a personal code of ethics that requires continuous reflection and learning.

Example indicators:

  • 5A-1 Examine personal assumptions, values, and beliefs to address students’ various academic, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, physical, and economic assets and needs and promote equitable practices and access appropriate resources.
  • 5A-2 Reflect on areas for improvement and take responsibility for change and growth.
  • 5A-3 Engage in professional learning to be up-to-date with education research, literature, best practices, and trends to strengthen ability to lead.
  • 5A-4 Continuously improve cultural proficiency skills and competency in curriculum, instruction, and assessment for all learners.
  • 5A-5 Sustain personal motivation, commitment, energy, and health by balancing professional and personal responsibilities.

Element 5B: Ethical decision-making

Leaders guide and support personal and collective actions that use relevant evidence and available research to make fair and ethical decisions.

Example indicators:

  • 5B-1 Consider and evaluate the potential moral and legal consequences of decisions.
  • 5B-2 Review multiple measures of data and research on effective teaching and learning, leadership, management practices, equity, and other pertinent areas to inform decision-making.
  • 5B-3 Identify personal and institutional biases and remove barriers that derive from economic, social-emotional, racial, linguistic, cultural, physical, gender-based, or other sources of educational disadvantage or discrimination.
  • 5B-4 Commit to making difficult decisions in service of equitable outcomes for students, staff, and the school community

Element 5C: Ethical action

Leaders recognize and use their professional influence with staff and the community to develop a climate of trust, mutual respect, and honest communication, necessary to consistently make fair and equitable decisions on behalf of all students.

Example indicators:

  • 5C-1 Communicate expectations and support for professional behavior that reflects ethics, integrity, justice, and equity.
  • 5C-2 Use a variety of strategies to lead others in safely examining personal assumptions and respectfully challenge beliefs that negatively affect improving teaching and learning for all students.
  • 5C-3 Encourage and inspire others to higher levels of performance, commitment, and motivation by modeling transparent and accountable behavior.
  • 5C-4 Protect the rights and appropriate confidentiality of students, staff, and families.
  • 5C-5 Promote understanding and follow the legal, social, and ethical use of technology among all members of the school community.

Standard 6: External context and policy

Education leaders influence political, social, economic, legal, and cultural contexts affecting education to improve education policies and practices.

Element 6A: Understanding and communicating policy

Leaders actively structure and participate in opportunities that develop greater public understanding of the education policy environment.

Example indicators:

  • 6A-1 Operate consistently within the parameters of federal, state, and local laws, policies, regulations, and statutory requirements.
  • 6A-2 Understand and can explain the roles of school leaders, boards of education, legislators, and other key stakeholders in making education policy.
  • 6A-3 Welcome and facilitate conversations with the local community about how to improve learning and achievement for all students, including English Learners and students needing additional support.
  • 6A-4 Facilitate discussions with the public about federal, state, and local laws, policies, regulations, and statutory requirements affecting continuous improvement of educational programs and outcomes.
  • 6A-5 Work with local leaders to assess, analyze, and anticipate emerging trends and initiatives and their impact on education.

Element 6B: Professional influence

Leaders use their understanding of social, cultural, economic, legal, and political contexts to shape policies that lead to all students graduating ready for college and career.

Example indicators:

  • 6B-1 Advocate for equity and adequacy in providing for students’ and families’ educational, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, legal, physical, and economic needs, so that every student can meet education expectations and goals.
  • 6B-2 Support public policies and administrative procedures that provide for present and future needs of all children and families and improve equity and excellence in education.
  • 6B-3 Promote public policies that ensure the equitable distribution of resources and support services for all students.

Element 6C Policy engagement

Leaders engage with policymakers and stakeholders to collaborate on education policies focused on improving education for all students.

Example indicators:

  • 6C-1 Work with the governing board, district and local leaders to influence policies that benefit students and support the improvement of teaching and learning.
  • 6C-2 Actively develop relationships with a range of stakeholders, policymakers, and researchers to identify and address issues, trends, and potential changes that affect the context and conduct of education.
  • 6C-3 Collaborate with community leaders and stakeholders with specialized expertise to inform district and school planning, policies, and programs that respond to cultural, economic, social, and other emerging issues.

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