The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) recently released Building Ranks K-12: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective School Leaders, containing strategies, action steps, examples, and more. While focusing on the role of the principal, this extensive guide to school leadership principles and practices can also be used by school boards in a number of important ways. After all, the framework’s “why statement” speaks to the purpose of schools: they “will prepare the whole child for success in the global community.”

The Building Ranks framework is grounded in a model of leadership that incorporates two domains – culture and learning – intended to drive success for children as well as adults. While retaining more traditional concepts about leadership of learning including curriculum, instruction, and assessments, human capital management, and results-orientation, what’s new about this framework is the emphasis on leadership’s role in building school culture. The framework addresses values such as student-centeredness, wellness, equity, ethics, and global-mindedness, as well as relationships and communication, in building culture.

The idea is that in today’s global and rapidly-changing world, active and innovative leadership is necessary to foster continuous school improvement and success for all members of the learning community. Based in the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, or PSEL (formerly known as ISLLC Standards) and other educational leadership standards, the framework represents the most current thinking about principles and best practices for educational leadership.

The NASSP document provides a wealth of resources for helping school leaders apply the framework and move effective leadership standards and principles into practice. For each dimension of building culture and leading learning, the framework offers strategies, steps and additional actions, reflection questions, examples, and additional resources.

School boards can use these tools to clarify their vision and mission for building culture and leading learning in their schools—and to help ensure that school leaders’ actions are aligned. With staff, they can evaluate current practices and conditions and determine the greatest needs for growth. And they can consider how to hire, assign, develop, and support school leaders who can carry out the culture and learning leadership strategies outlined in the guide. In short, they can use this framework to guide effective leadership throughout their school system from the board level to the building level.