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Professional responsibilities mapping: Advancing curriculum mapping

5 min read


In the past, when I’ve written about curriculum mapping, it has always been in terms of curriculum and the intended audience was teachers or curriculum and instruction administrators. Recently, I’ve been doing quite a bit of work with administrators around the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium, or ISLLC Standards, in light of principal and administrative evaluations related to Race to the Top grants in multiple states.

The states that are using ISLLC as a basis are doing so because they provide functions that illustrate the responsibilities of school leaders around six areas or domains. If you aren’t familiar with the ISLLC standards, you can access the PDF of the document here.

What does this have to do with curriculum mapping, you might be asking? For the effective administrator, it has everything to do with mapping. When there is an expectation for others, it stands to reason that modeling would be a good idea. In other words, in schools that are mapping, the teachers are doing almost all the work with curriculum. How much more might they buy into the initiative if their administrative team was doing it too?

In terms of mapping for administrators, there are some easy associations to make. In mapping curriculum, we map out content pieces that represent what a student has to know and skills that a student has to be able to do. We map assessments as evidence that students know and do what we intend for them to know and do.

When we think about what our professional responsibilities are, we can make specific associations based on how we map curriculum. Our responsibilities are our content, our actions are our skills and the evidence is the assessment.

A colleague of mine, Carol Bush of the Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services, came up with a self-assessment based on the ISLLC standards. In it, she asks school administrators to rate themselves according to each function, as well as assessing how important an administrator believes a function to be.

When Carol and I work with administrators around the ISLLC standards, we ask them about potential evidence of the standards (functions) being met. Over the course of the past year, we’ve compiled a list of potential evidence generated in our staff development

Because the functions and the potential evidence are major portions of a professional responsibility map, we thought it would be a good idea to share as the roots of that map. All an administrator would have to come up with are the actions that got them to the evidence. Thus, the map may look something like this:


(Within each domain, an administrator should address responsibilities within each of the functions.)


(What actions should be in place around the responsibilities already identified?)


(What is acceptable evidence that the responsibilities and actions have been met?)

1: Vision *See Attached Potential Evidence
2: Culture *See Attached Potential Evidence
3: Safety *See Attached Potential Evidence
4: Community *See Attached Potential Evidence
5: Ethics *See Attached Potential Evidence
6: Context *See Attached Potential Evidence

This map is on the generic side and in order to be more specific, it would need to address specific prioritized functions as they relate to specific ISLLC standards. Those prioritized functions would likely address the most important functions that relate specifically to an administrator’s role in a school district and not necessarily be inclusive of every single function. Additionally, an administrator would want to address actions that would delineate the responsibilities as specific steps in a process.

It bears mentioning that in New York state specifically, the ISLLC standards are the basis of the principal evaluation system. The approved rubrics in New York (and in other states, I suspect) are ALL based on the ISLLC standards. Some of them, like the Multi-Dimensional Principal Practice Rubric (MPPR) have the functions of the standards blatantly represented in the language of the levels of the rubric. Also, the ISLLC standards are a broad measure of an administrator’s responsibilities. The rubrics are meant to be more specific and help an administrator with understanding not only what the standards and functions are, but what different levels of action within those functions looks like.

I hope this is helpful as principals navigate some of the evaluation territory alongside their teachers. While there are a lot of standards and functions to consider as best practices, I still think it all boils down to doing what is best for our students and these standards are a means to that end. If you are interested in learning more about mapping roles and responsibilities, I encourage you to check books by some of my colleagues, including “The Curriculum Mapping Planner” by Heidi Hayes Jacobs and “An Educational Leader’s Guide to Curriculum Mapping” by Janet A. Hale.

Mike Fisher (@fisher1000) is a National Board Certified former teacher with more than a decade of classroom and professional development experience. He is a full-time educational consultant and instructional coach, and works primarily with school districts to integrate the Common Core State Standards, make data-informed instructional decisions, sustain their curriculum mapping initiatives and integrate instructional technology. Learn more at The Digigogy Collaborative or on his blog.