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Preparation Manual

Preparation Manual

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Section 3: Overview and Exam Framework
Principal as Instructional Leader (268)

Exam Overview

Table outlining the test format, number of questions, time, and passing score.
Exam Name Principal as Instructional Leader
Exam Code 268
Time 5 hours
Number of Questions 70 selected-response questions and 4 constructed-response questions
Format Computer-administered test (CAT)

As the landscape of Texas schools has changed over time, so has the importance of instructional leadership in the principal's role. To better reflect these changes, the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) worked with stakeholders to draft the Texas Principal Certificate Standards. These standards were adopted in August 2016 and can be found in Texas Administrative Code §241.15 opens in a new window. To ensure alignment with the new standards, the Texas Education Agency has developed the TExES Principal as Instructional Leader examination (268).

The TExES Principal as Instructional Leader examination (268) is designed to assess whether a test taker has the requisite knowledge and skills that an effective entry-level principal or assistant principal in Texas public schools must possess.

Research shows that being an instructional leader is a hallmark of effective principals.1 This assessment includes aspects of instructional leadership, such as data-driven decision making, the continuous improvement cycle, the observation and coaching cycle, change management, and issues related to educational equity.

The TExES Principal as Instructional Leader examination (268) includes 70 selected-response questions and 4 constructed-response questions based on the exam's domain and competency statements, with emphasis given to priority statements within each domain. The context of the questions will include early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school in rural, suburban, and urban settings.

The TExES Principal as Instructional Leader examination (268) is coupled with the Performance Assessment for School Leaders (PASL), which requires candidates to demonstrate application of key instructional leadership skills by completing authentic performance-based tasks and reflections.

1The Principal Perspective: Full Report. Center for Public Education, 2012.

The Standards

The domains and competencies of the Principal as Instructional Leader examination (268) are aligned with the August 2016 update to the Texas Principal Certificate Standards found in Texas Administrative Code §241.15 opens in a new window.

241.15. Standards Required for the Principal Certificate.

Principal Certificate Standards. The knowledge and skills identified in this section must be used by an educator preparation program in the development of curricula and coursework and by the State Board for Educator Certification as the basis for developing the examinations required to obtain the standard Principal Certificate. The standards also serve as the foundation for the individual assessment, professional growth plan, and continuing professional education activities required by §241.30 of this title (relating to Requirements to Renew the Standard Principal Certificate).

The Principal Certificate Standards include the following areas, with a breakdown of knowledge and skills within each standard.

  1. School Culture
  2. Leading Learning
  3. Human Capital
  4. Executive Leadership
  5. Strategic Operations
  6. Ethics, Equity, and Diversity

Domains and Competencies

Table outlining test content subject weighting by domain.
Domain Domain Title Approx. Percentage of Selected-Response Questions Approx. Percentage of Constructed-Response Questions Approx. Percentage of Exam Competencies Assessed
I School Culture 12% 10% 22% 001 to 002
II Leading Learning 17% 25% 42% 003 to 004
III Human Capital 13% 5% 18% 005 to 006
IV Executive Leadership 6% blank 6% 007 to 008
V Strategic Operations 6% blank 6% 009 to 010
VI Ethics, Equity, and Diversity 5% blank 5% 011
blank Total 60%* 40%* blank blank

The Principal as Instructional Leader examination (268) includes six domains with varying weightings. The heavier weightings of Domains I, II, and III are a reflection of both the constructed-response and selected-response questions assessing content in those domains. Each of the four constructed-response questions on the assessment is weighted at 10% of the total exam.

*The weightings of the selected-response and constructed-response portions of the framework are approximate.

In addition to being assessed in Domain VI, ethics, equity, and diversity will be integrated throughout other domains. For example, see areas of the framework such as Competency 1A, 2B, 3B, 4D, 6C, 9C, and 10H.

The exam contains questions that do not count toward the score. The candidate's final scaled score will be based only on scored questions.

Approximate Domain Weightings of the Exam

Pie chart of approximate test weighting, detailed in the table above.

The exam framework or content covered by this test is organized into broad areas of content called domains. Each domain covers one or more of the principal standards for this field. Within each domain, the content is further defined by a set of competencies. Each competency is composed of two major parts:

All descriptive statements will be assessed at both the theory and application levels.

The specific knowledge and skills from Domains I, II and III, which will be assessed using constructed-response questions, are provided in the Integration section of the framework.

Reflective Questions for Preparation Programs

How can you design learning experiences for your candidates so that they can practically apply the knowledge and skills described in the competencies and the priority statements?

How can you review the domains and competencies presented in practice questions through the lens of the day-to-day interactions of a school leader? Additionally, how can you apply the content to other contexts (e.g., rural and urban, low socioeconomic, large and small schools, and other grade levels)?

Reflective Questions for Candidates

How can you reference learning experiences you have already completed to identify best practices presented in the practice questions?

In what other contexts (e.g., rural and urban, low socioeconomic, large and small schools, and other grade levels) can best practices be applied?

How can you maximize the course assignments and learning experiences provided by your preparation program to deepen your skills in the areas of the framework for which you feel least prepared?

The Exam Framework (Knowledge and Skills Statements)

The content assessed by the TExES Principal as Instructional Leader examination (268) is provided below.

Domain I—School Culture (School and Community Leadership)

Competency 001—The entry-level principal knows how to establish and implement a shared vision and culture of high expectations for all stakeholders (students, staff, parents, and community).
  1. *Creates a positive, collaborative, and collegial campus culture that sets high expectations and facilitates the implementation and achievement of campus initiatives and goals
  2. Uses emerging issues, recent research, knowledge of systems (e.g., school improvement process, strategic planning, etc.), and various types of data (e.g., demographic, perceptive, student learning, and processes) to collaboratively develop a shared campus vision and a plan for implementing the vision
  3. Facilitates the collaborative development of a plan that clearly articulates objectives and strategies for implementing a campus vision
  4. Aligns financial, human, and material resources to support implementation of a campus vision and mission
  5. Establishes procedures to assess and modify implementation plans to promote achievement of the campus vision
  6. Models and promotes the continuous and appropriate development of all stakeholders in the school community, to shape the campus culture
  7. *Establishes and communicates consistent expectations for all stakeholders, providing supportive feedback to promote a positive campus environment
  8. *Implements effective strategies to systematically gather input from all campus stakeholders, supporting innovative thinking and an inclusive culture
  9. *Creates an atmosphere of safety that encourages the social, emotional, and physical well-being of staff and students
  10. Facilitates the implementation of research-based theories and techniques to promote a campus environment and culture that is conducive to effective teaching and learning and supports organizational health and morale
Competency 002—The entry-level principal knows how to work with stakeholders as key partners to support student learning.
  1. Acknowledges, recognizes, and celebrates the contributions of all stakeholders toward the realization of the campus vision
  2. Implements strategies to ensure the development of collegial relationships and effective collaboration
  3. *Uses consensus-building, conflict-management, communication, and information-gathering strategies to involve various stakeholders in planning processes that enable the collaborative development of a shared campus vision and mission focused on teaching and learning
  4. *Ensures that parents and other members of the community are an integral part of the campus culture


Domain II—Leading Learning (Instructional Leadership/Teaching and Learning)

Competency 003—The entry-level principal knows how to collaboratively develop and implement high-quality instruction.
  1. *Prioritizes instruction and student achievement by understanding, sharing, and promoting a clear definition of high-quality instruction based on best practices from recent research
  2. *Facilitates the use of sound, research-based practice in the development, implementation, coordination, and evaluation of campus curricular, cocurricular, and extracurricular programs to fulfill academic, development, social, and cultural needs
  3. *Facilitates campus participation in collaborative district planning, implementation, monitoring, and revision of the curriculum to ensure appropriate scope, sequence, content, and alignment
  4. *Implements a rigorous curriculum that is aligned with state standards, including college and career-readiness standards
  5. Facilitates the use and integration of technology, telecommunications, and information systems to enhance learning
Competency 004—The entry-level principal knows how to monitor and assess classroom instruction to promote teacher effectiveness and student achievement.
  1. *Monitors instruction routinely by visiting classrooms, observing instruction, and attending grade-level, department, or team meetings to provide evidence-based feedback to improve instruction
  2. *Analyzes the curriculum collaboratively to guide teachers in aligning content across grades and ensures that curricular scopes and sequences meet the particular needs of their diverse student populations (considering sociological, linguistic, cultural, and other factors)
  3. *Monitors and ensures staff use of multiple forms of student data to inform instruction and intervention decisions that maximizes instructional effectiveness and student achievement
  4. *Promotes instruction that supports the growth of individual students and student groups, supports equity, and works to reduce the achievement gap
  5. *Supports staff in developing the capacity and time to collaboratively and individually use classroom formative and summative assessment data to inform effective instructional practices and interventions


Domain III—Human Capital (Human Resource Management)

Competency 005—The entry-level principal knows how to provide feedback, coaching, and professional development to staff through evaluation and supervision, knows how to reflect on his/her own practice, and strives to grow professionally.
  1. *Communicates expectations to staff and uses multiple data points (e.g., regular observations, walk-throughs, teacher and student data, and other sources) to complete evidence-based evaluations of all staff
  2. *Coaches and develops teachers by facilitating teacher self-assessment and goal setting, conducting conferences, giving individualized feedback, and supporting individualized professional growth opportunities
  3. *Collaborates to develop, implement, and revise a comprehensive and ongoing plan for the professional development of campus staff that addresses staff needs based on staff appraisal trends, goals, and student information/data
  4. *Facilitates a continuum of effective professional development activities that includes appropriate content, process, context, allocation of time, funding, and other needed resources
  5. Engages in ongoing and meaningful professional growth activities, reflects on his or her practice, seeks and acts on feedback, and strives to continually improve, learn, and grow
  6. Seeks assistance (e.g., mentor, central office) to ensure effective and reflective decision making and works collaboratively with campus and district leadership
Competency 006—The entry-level principal knows how to promote high-quality teaching by using selection, placement, and retention practices to promote teacher excellence and growth.
  1. *Invests and manages time to prioritize the development, support, and supervision of the staff to maximize student outcomes
  2. *Facilitates collaborative structures that support professional learning communities in reviewing data, processes, and policies in order to improve teaching and learning in the school
  3. *Creates leadership opportunities, defines roles, and delegates responsibilities to effective staff and administrators to support campus goal attainment
  4. *Implements effective, appropriate, and legal strategies for the recruitment, screening, hiring, assignment, induction, development, evaluation, promotion, retention, discipline, and dismissal of campus staff


Domain IV—Executive Leadership (Communication and Organizational Management)

Competency 007—The entry-level principal knows how to develop relationships with internal and external stakeholders, including selecting appropriate communication strategies for particular audiences.
  1. *Understands how to effectively communicate a message in different ways to meet the needs of various audiences
  2. *Develops and implements strategies for systematically communicating internally and externally
  3. Develops and implements a comprehensive program of community relations that uses strategies that effectively involve and inform multiple constituencies
  4. Establishes partnerships with parents, businesses, and other groups in the community to strengthen programs and support campus goals
Competency 008—The entry-level principal knows how to focus on improving student outcomes through organizational collaboration, resiliency, and change management.
  1. Demonstrates awareness of social and economic issues that exist within the school and community that affect campus operations and student learning
  2. Gathers and organizes information from a variety of sources to facilitate creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem solving to guide effective campus decision making
  3. *Frames, analyzes, and creatively resolves campus problems using effective problem-solving techniques to make timely, high-quality decisions
  4. Develops, implements, and evaluates systems and processes for organizational effectiveness to keep staff inspired and focused on the campus vision
  5. *Uses effective planning, time management, and organization of work to support attainment of school district and campus goals


Domain V—Strategic Operations (Alignment and Resource Allocation)

Competency 009—The entry-level principal knows how to collaboratively determine goals and implement strategies aligned with the school vision that support teacher effectiveness and positive student outcomes.
  1. *Assesses the current needs of the campus, analyzing a wide set of evidence to determine campus objectives, and sets measurable school goals, targets, and strategies that form the school's strategic plans
  2. *Establishes structures that outline and track the progress using multiple data points and makes adjustments as needed to improve teacher effectiveness and student outcomes
  3. *Allocates resources effectively (e.g., staff time, master schedule, dollars, and tools), aligning them with school objectives and goals, and works to access additional resources as needed to support learning
  4. Implements appropriate management techniques and group processes to define roles, assign functions, delegate authority, and determine accountability for campus goal attainment
Competency 010—The entry-level principal knows how to provide administrative leadership through resource management, policy implementation, and coordination of school operations and programs to ensure a safe learning environment.
  1. Implements strategies that enable the physical plant, equipment, and support systems to operate safely, efficiently, and effectively to maintain a conducive learning environment
  2. *Applies strategies for ensuring the safety of students and personnel and for addressing emergencies and security concerns, including developing and implementing a crisis plan
  3. *Applies local, state, and federal laws and policies to support sound decisions while considering implications related to all school operations and programs (e.g., student services, food services, health services, and transportation)
  4. *Collaboratively plans and effectively manages the campus budget within state law and district policies to promote sound financial management in relation to accounts, bidding, purchasing, and grants
  5. Uses technology to enhance school management (e.g., attendance systems, teacher grade books, shared drives, and messaging systems)
  6. Facilitates the effective coordination of campus curricular, cocurricular, and extracurricular programs in relation to other school district programs to fulfill the academic, developmental, social, and cultural needs of students
  7. Collaborates with district staff to ensure the understanding and implementation of district policies and advocates for the needs of students and staff
  8. *Implements strategies for student discipline and attendance in a manner that ensures student safety, consistency, and equity and that legal requirements are met (e.g., due process, SPED requirements)


Domain VI—Ethics, Equity, and Diversity

Competency 011—The entry-level principal knows how to provide ethical leadership by advocating for children and ensuring student access to effective educators, programs, and services.
  1. Implements policies and procedures that require all campus personnel to comply with the Educators' Code of Ethics (TAC Chapter 247)
  2. Models and promotes the highest standard of conduct, ethical principles, and integrity in decision making, actions, and behaviors
  3. *Advocates for all children by promoting the continuous and appropriate development of all learners in the campus community
  4. *Implements strategies to ensure that all students have access to effective educators and continuous opportunities to learn
  5. *Promotes awareness and appreciation of diversity throughout the campus community (e.g., learning differences, multicultural awareness, gender sensitivity, and ethnic appreciation)
  6. *Facilitates and supports special campus programs that provide all students with quality, flexible instructional programs and services (e.g., health, guidance, and counseling programs) to meet individual student needs
  7. *Applies legal guidelines (e.g., in relation to students with disabilities, bilingual education, confidentiality, and discrimination) to protect the rights of students and staff and to improve learning opportunities
  8. Articulates the importance of education in a free, democratic society


Integration (Constructed Response Only)

The entry-level principal:

  1. Routinely monitors instruction through classroom observations and attends teacher-led meetings in order to coach and develop teachers by providing evidence-based feedback to help teachers improve instruction (Domain II and III)
  2. Facilitates the development of and implementation of a rigorous curriculum that aligns with state standards and promotes college and career readiness (Domain II)
  3. Supports staff in effectively using instructional data, including formative and summative assessment data, to inform effective instructional practices and interventions (Domain II)
  4. Creates a positive, collaborative, and equitable culture that establishes and communicates high, consistent expectations for all stakeholders and addresses barriers to ensure achievement of campus initiatives and goals (Domain I)

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