Raising the bar: The role of the principal in implementing standards-based education

Laurie Karen Cassel, Fordham University


Currently all 50 states have implemented standards-based education. As of this date, American students will be accountable for meeting high stakes benchmarks in the substantive areas of language arts, mathematics, science, technology, and history. These benchmarks are the results of 20 years of an educational reform agenda designed to prepare students for entry into the 21st century. Consequently pedagogy and curricula must include not only training for basic competency but also developing students' ability to think critically, work cooperatively, and to develop technological proficiency. Finally, while the imposition of standards alters how teachers teach and students learn, its success will be undermined unless educators and students are given the tools and resources necessary to reach the identified skill levels. The standards-based movement also affects the role of the principal. As school leaders, principals must not only understand the purpose of standards, but also how to craft a leadership model that encourages support for standards among faculty, communities, and high levels of achievement among students. This study attempted to identify 1 vehicle of support designed for school leaders to guide them in implementing standards-based education. The focus of this study identified the Standards-Based Curriculum Renewal Framework: An Administrators' Tool Kit (DiMaria, 1997). A qualitative study was designed to study the effectiveness of this model. Data were collected through surveys, interviews and documents. The findings of this study were characterized through three constructs. These constructs were (a) the synergistic relationship between principals as implementers and the state-imposed standards, (b) the principals' relationship to their institutions vis à vis the standards, and (c) the principal as conduit through which a standards based pedagogy and development of relevant knowledge passes. Four overarching conclusions were drawn from this study. Continuous information, knowledge, and time are crucial elements for the successful implementation of standards-based education in a learning organization. Implementation of standards-based education needs to be supported by the whole community. Training models should encompass principals of adult learning. And finally, principals are key players in the implementation of standards-based education and need continued support.

Subject Area

School administration

Recommended Citation

Cassel, Laurie Karen, "Raising the bar: The role of the principal in implementing standards-based education" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3021696.