School Leaders Licensure Assessment
The School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA) measures whether entry-level education leaders have the standards-relevant knowledge believed necessary for competent professional practice.
The 4-hour assessment is divided into 2 sections: Section I (2 hours 20 minutes) — 100 multiple-choice questions. Section II (1 hour 40 minutes) — 7 constructed-response questions call for written answers based on scenarios and sets of documents that an education leader may encounter. Each of these questions focus on a specific content area related to the standards addressed in ISLLC 2008. In answering the questions, candidates are required to analyze situations and data, propose appropriate courses of action and provide rationales for their proposals.
Introduction to the SLLA
The School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA) is a test that is used by several states in the USA to grant a credential to become a K-12 School Administrator, such as a principal, sometimes in lieu of a masters degree. It is administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is given three times each year. The test is based around the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISSLC) Standards.
The test is 4+ hours long. There are both paper and computerized version of the test, but the paper versions are being phased out. ETS has some free test preparation material, and other material for sale. In California, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) offers a course called Aspiring California Educators (ACE) that helps prepare a person for the test. This class includes the ETS material as part of its fees. This class is highly recommended. This page will contain some of the information from that class, and some thoughts from myself, and hopefully others who have taken the SLLA and passed. As with all Wikiversity pages, no copyrighted material should be copied here, and this page should definitely not contain any actual questions from the tests. Cheating is unethical, and illegal. Given how the test is structured, I firmly believe that you can not pass unless you know how to make good decisions as an administrator, and can analyze situations well. But even if you have these pieces of knowledge and skills, the SLLA also requires knowing what parts of your knowledge you should write. This is what I hope this page can help with, and also help give general tactical advice.
The potential test-taker should be aware that the examination does not prepare individuals to be successful entry-level administrators. Test-takers in California should carefully consider whether the cost and time savings are worth the risk of liability due to a poor understanding of California law, finance, and state accountability requirements (all of which are not covered on the SLLA).
Parts of the SLLA
The four-hour assessment is divided into two sections:
•Section I (2 hours 20 minutes) — 100 multiple-choice questions. (worth 70%) •Section II (1 hour 40 minutes) — Seven constructed-response questions call for written answers based on scenarios and sets of documents that an education leader may encounter. Each of these questions focuses on a specific content area related to the standards addressed in ISLLC 2008. In answering the questions, candidates are required to analyze situations and data, propose appropriate courses of action, and provide rationales for their proposals. (worth 30%)
A ten minute break between the multiple choice section and the structured response sections is provided.
Cases and Documents
The cases and documents both involve analyzing documents, and making decisions based upon these. Some of the type of documents can include:
- Staff Evaluation Forms
- Enrollment Data
- Demographic Data
- Standardized Testing Data
- Grade Information
- Fact Sheets
- Newspaper Articles
- Memos from teachers, staff, or supervisors
- Letters from parents
- Minutes from meetings
- School Improvement or Strategic Plans
- Student Surveys
- Financial Data
Preparing for the SLLA
It is highly recommended that you get as many sample questions as you can before the test, and the sample rubrics for the questions. If there is a class offered near you that talks about how to pass the test, take it! Otherwise, get the SLLA prep materials from ETS. They're expensive, but worth it to pass the exam. They include many guidelines and sample answers. Sometimes, you can get the prep kit on eBay, or a used book store.
One of the best ways to use the sample questions is to answer them before looking at the rubric. Time yourself just as you would in the actual test. Then use the rubric to score your answer, and ask someone else to use the rubric to score your answer. (Make sure the other person doesn't see how you originally scored yourself) By doing the practice questions, you will also become familiar with the language of the test.
Once you have composed practice questions, it seems wise to read the answers that earned 3 points, rather than the lower scoring, so the higher scoring recommendations and rater commentary will be in your mind.
Pay particular attention to the comments in the study guide materials. What did the raters like about answers? What was missing from others. This gives you ideas as to what should be included.
Creating a formal study plan, and scheduling which days and times you will do which parts of your studying can be very beneficial.
The ISSLC Standards
The ISSLC Standards are what the SLLA is based upon. Having a basic grasp of what the standards are can be helpful in passing the exam.
An educator leader promotes the success of every student by:
- Standard 1 - The Vision of Learning - facilitating the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by the school community:
- Standard 2 - The Culture of Teaching and Learning - advocating, nurturing, and sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth
- Standard 3 - Management of Learning - ensuring management of the organization, operations, and resources for a safe, efficient and effective learning environment
- Standard 4 - Relationship with Broader Community to Foster Learning - collaborating with families and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources
- Standard 5 - Integrity, Fairness, and Ethics in Learning - acting with integrity, with fairness and in an ethical manner
- Standard 6 - The Political, Social, Economic, Legal and Cultural Context of Learning - understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger political, social, economic, legal and cultural contexts
Following is the function of each standard, as explained by the ISLLC:
- collaboratively develop and implement a shared vision and mission
- collect and use data to identify goals, assess organizational effectiveness, and promote organizational learning
- create and implement plans to achieve goals
- promote continuous and sustainable improvement
- monitor and evaluate progress and revise plans
- nurture and sustain a culture of collaboration, trust, learning, and high expectations
- create a comprehensive, rigorous, and coherent curricular program
- create a personalized and motivating learning environment for students
- supervise instruction
- develop assessment and accountability systems to monitor student progress
- develop the instructional and leadership capacity of staff
- maximize time spent on quality instruction
- promote the use of the most effective and appropriate technologies to support teaching and learning;
- monitor and evaluate the impact of the instructional program
- monitor and evaluate the management and operational systems
- obtain, allocate, align and efficiently utilize human, fiscal, and technological resources
- promote and protect the welfare and safety of students and staff
- develop the capcity of distributed leadership
- ensure teacher and organizational time is focused to support quality instruction
- collect and analyze data and information pertinent to educational environments
- promote understanding, appreciation and the use of community's diverse cultural, social and intellectual resources
- build and sustain positive relationships with families and caregivers
- build and sustain productive relationships with community partners
- ensure a system of accountability for every student's academic and social success
- model principles of self-awareness, reflective practice, transparency, and ethical behavior
- safeguard the values of democracy, equity and diversity
- consider and evaluate the potential moral and legal consequences of decision-making
- promote social justice and ensure that individual students needs inform all aspects of schooling
- advocate for children, families and caregivers
- act to influence local, district, state and national decisions affecting student learning
- assess, analyze and anticipate emerging trends and initiatives in order to adapt leadership strategies
Knowledge, Skills and Beliefs
The following is a summary of what knowledge, skills, and beliefs an effective school administrator should have:
- Leadership and Vision
- Good communication skills
- The desire to work with all stakeholders and build consensus as much as possible
- Being able to develop and implement a strategic plan
- Understanding and being able to apply systems theory
- Having good data gathering and analysis skills
- Having high standards
- Believing everyone can learn and everyone deserves a good education
- The desire to continually grow and improve; the willingness to do self-examination, spreading this desire to others
- Teaching and Learning
- The belief that student learning is the first and foremost purpose of schooling
- Desiring to help students to learn to become contributing members of society
- Knowing and being able to apply learning and motivational theories to have effective instruction
- Having effective strategies for measuring, evaluating, and assessing students, staff, curriculum, etc
- Belief in diversity
- Understanding the needs of the adult learner to have effective professional development
- Understanding how change occurs in a school system
- Being able to use technology to improve the educational process
- Understanding and being able to work in school cultures
- Creating an environment where everyone feels valued and important because you treat everyone with fairness, dignity and respect
- Acknowledging and celebrating the responsibilities and contributions of all stakeholders
General SLLA Test Taking Strategies
The following are some test taking strategies that may help you:
- You may want to read several of the questions first and start on the "easiest" one.
- State the obvious. The scorers will not make any assumptions about what you know or don't, so state everything
- Don't use buzz words. The scorer may not be from your state, and may not know what you mean. If you do choose to use a word that might not be known by everyone, make sure you explain it.
- If you use an acronym, spell out what it is before using it, and explain what it is.
- Analyze and underline the important parts of each section.
- Pay attention to the "action" verbs in each scenario, and also the details such as a new principal, or May in service.
- Do not repeat the question in your answer, or put the standard in your answer. Knowing the standards is very good, but putting the title of a standard in your answer won't help you.
- Do not argue with the question, or try to answer an "alternative" question (Although it is fine to not agree with people in the scenario, don't say in your answer "this scenario is stupid")
- Do not misspell principal! (Other spelling and grammar errors will generally not be counted against you)
- Leave spaces between paragraphs so they can be added to later. You can also draw lines to other parts of the paper if you wish to add something.
- Be sure to put your answers on the appropriate page
- You don't need to put in a formal topic sentence of thesis statement.
- Be careful with bullets or lists, make sure that if you use them that it is extremely clear what the entire list means.
- Pace yourself, keep track of the time.
- Make sure you respond to all parts of the question, as often the questions may have more than one "sub question" inside of it. There also are other implicit questions that might be good to answer in your statement.
- Before answering a question, you can brain dump and outline your answer. This often is helpful for people.
- In any scenario, it never hurts to gather more information before making a decision. (Although some safety or legal decisions must be made immediately, it does not hurt to gather information afterwards.)
- In any scenario, make sure you close feedback loops, such as getting back to a parent who complains, or talking to a teacher, etc.
- Be careful when reading charts, graphs, tables etc. Make sure you really understand what they mean.
- If you finish a section early, reread your responses, and reread the questions.
- It seems that you will generally not get docked points if you put in too much information in your responses, but the information should always be well thought out and well organized.
- Get the study guide, review all the questions at least twice. Pace yourself and answer all of the questions.
For more info and tips on the test buy the SLLA Crash Course Book, it has Two Complete Practice Tests: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781475827842/SLLA-Crash-Course-Approaches-for-Success
You have to know the ISLLC Standards and SLLA Crash Course takes you step by step through the standards and then gives you two complete practice tests.
What to Bring with You to the Test
You should check with the official website to find out what is required when taking the test.
The following are some of the items that are required or recommended to take with you when taking the test:
- Proof of admission
- Photo ID
- A variety of No 2. pencils and black and blue pens.
- Papermate makes a black pen with an eraser; this pen is a must for this test! (added by LauraJC26 :))
- Pencil Grips to make holding the pencil or pens easier
- Layers of clothing so you can adjust to any weather or temperature
- Bottled water or other beverages
- A bagged lunch, so you don't have to look for a restaurant during the break
- Eat breakfast before going
- Wrist Brace for your writing hand
- Non-prescription pain killers (your wrists will be sore)
- Basic Wrist Watch
- Ear plugs (for the night before if you stay in a hotel)
- A positive attitude! Positive self talk can psyche yourself up and help you in the test.
How the SLLA works in each state
See the ETS list of states for requirements for each state.
In the state of California passing the SLLA with a score of 173 out of 200 (86.5%) or higher allows a person to without a masters degree to get an Administrative Services Credential. California apparently still uses the older 1010 test, which is covered in this article.
In Louisiana, 166 is passing and with 240 hours of documented leadership activities, one can get Educational Leadership Certification for administration and supervision, referred to as the Alternative Pathway 1.
In Virginia, North Carolina, and New Jersey, 163 is passing. (List of passing scores from ETS, by state.)
Despite having the lowest performing schools and a shortage of school administrators due to a mass exodus from the profession, the State of Mississippi requires the highest score in the US (169) to receive an Administrators License with an appropriate Masters Degree.
- Hozen, Wafa (2017). SLLA Crash Course. Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 978-1475827842