Louisiana’s K-12 school system is in dire straits. It needs affective motivated leadership for its schools and districts, pronto.
The state consistently ranks at the bottom of public education nationally, and unfortunately its low scores are not only limited to academic outcomes: bullying, safety, class size, and teacher certification levels each also contribute to weighing the school system down.
According to the Louisiana Department of Education’s (LDOE) 2022 district performance reports, 26 of the state’s 65 total districts –40%– received a “C” evaluation or lower. Four of those districts received “Ds” and two earned an “F.” Only 11% of districts achieved an “A.”
The state also has significant demographic disparities in its K-12 educational system. Two groups, English language learners and students with disabilities, experienced a “D”-worthy learning environment. African American, Latino, homeless, and economically disadvantaged students all experienced “C”-quality learning environments.
Louisiana’s state of education has needed good leadership for a while. Katrina certainly didn’t help but its schools were in relatively bad shape even before then.
It’s well documented that the higher up you go in school leadership, the more impact you can have on students. The Wallace Foundation has found that skilled principals have an important measurable effect on metrics like student academic performance and teacher quality. It’s only natural that superintendents have the same knock-on effect, just by an even greater magnitude.
You want to make a difference, and you have a strength in leadership.
The road to educational leadership in Louisiana starts with higher education: a graduate degree in a field like education leadership or administration.
How to Become a Principal in Louisiana – School-level Educational Leadership
You’ve caught the principal bug; now you need to complete a few additional requirements that involve education and passing an examination. The credential you need is an Educational Leader Level 1 (EDL1) Certificate.
Throughout this process you’ll be working with the LDOE’s Teach LA Live! online educator certification portal.
This isn’t your first rodeo; you’ve worked as a teacher for a while. But before you can start down this leadership path confirm that you have a Level 2 Professional Certificate. You know the drill for getting this: three years of teaching experience on your Level 1 Professional Certificate and passage of the Louisiana Teacher Assistance and Assessment Program (LATAAP).
Step 1. Earn a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership
A master’s degree in educational leadership is the standard path for fulfilling the EDL1 Certificate education requirement. Currently the LDOE lists 15 colleges and universities in Louisiana that offer qualifying master’s and doctoral programs in educational leadership.
If you earn a degree in a closely related field, like educational administration, then have the dean of your program send a letter to the LDOE that verifies your graduate program is aligned with the National Policy Board for Educational Administration’s Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL).
These standards are familiar to anyone who’s studied graduate-level educational leadership and cover topics like:
If you already earned a graduate degree but it was in a different field, or if you have extensive educational leadership experience, you may be able to use these to fulfill the EDL1 Certificate education requirement:
- If you have a master’s degree in a different field, you can still complete a series of courses in educational leadership from an accredited college or university (Alternate Path 1).
- If you have a master’s degree in education, then you need to demonstrate that you have at least 240 hours of educational leadership experience at the school or district level (Alternate Path 2).
- If you only have a bachelor’s degree then you need to complete a series of courses in educational leadership from a state-approved provider (Alternate Path 3).
Step 2. Fulfill the Exam Requirement
The LDOE accepts either one of the following exams as fulfilling this requirement to earn the EDL1 Certificate:
School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA) from ETS
You’re allocated four hours to complete the SLLA, which is comprised of 120 select-response questions (75% weight) and four constructed response questions (25% weight). The content covered is leadership and how it pertains to these seven fields:
A passing score is considered to be a score of at least 151.
Louisiana Leadership Assessment Series (LLAS)
The LLAS is a portfolio-based exam developed by a collaboration of the company BloomBoard and the LDOE. This involves creating a BloomBoard account and submitting portfolio evidence that shows you are successful in the following competency areas:
Once you submit your portfolio a team of certified assessors will score it. They will also offer you feedback, and if needed you can re-submit your portfolio as many times as necessary until you pass.
Step 3. Apply for the EDL1 Certificate and Prepare to Upgrade it
At this point you’re ready to submit an EDL1 Certificate application to the LDOE.
The EDL1 Certificate is valid for three years, and can be extended a maximum of two additional years. This should give you enough time to find employment as a principal and fulfill the requirements to upgrade your credential to an EDL2 Certificate.
The EDL2 Certificate is valid for five years and can be renewed indefinitely provided you complete all renewal requirements.
To upgrade your EDL1 Certificate to an EDL2 Certificate you must earn job performance ratings that are at least “effective” in your leadership position for at least three years.
School Principal Salary and Jobs in Louisiana
The standard annual salary figure for Louisiana principals in 2022 was nearly six figures statewide at $95,510.
That’s according to the US Department of Labor’s 75th-percentile salary figure for Louisiana’s K-12 administrators that year.
And based on that, the annual principal salary differs widely depending on what Louisiana statistical area you work in:
On seeing these numbers a clear trend in salary level emerges along an urban-rural divide.
Jefferson Parish Schools is the largest district in the state with approximately 6,400 employees. It utilizes dozens of principals among its 50 elementary schools, 11 high schools, and 20 other schools.
The Orleans Parish school district is another major player in the state, with some of the highest-earning principals working at its 23 high schools
The East Baton Rouge School System is home to nine districts and includes devoted principals who work at 12 high schools, seven magnet schools, and dozens more elementary and middle schools.
How to Become a Superintendent in Louisiana – District-Level Educational Leadership
You have an EDL2 Certificate or similar administrative certificate, three years of teaching experience, and five years of successful leadership administrative experience, at least three of which are beyond the assistant principal level.
At this point you’re ready to upgrade your EDL2 Certificate to an EDL3 Certificate. With this upgrade you can qualify for superintendent and assistant superintendent positions. You just need to fulfill the exam requirement.
Step 1. Pass the School Superintendent Assessment (SSA)
You’ll have three hours to complete 120 select-response and three constructed-response questions. A passing score is considered to be at least 162. Content areas covered on the exam are:
Step 2. Apply with the LDOE for an EDL3 Certificate
Now you can submit an EDL3 Certificate application to the LDOE. Include a copy of your SSA score.
The EDL3 Certificate is valid for five years and renewable upon verification of at least three years of an “effective” or higher job performance evaluation.
Superintendent Salary and Jobs in Louisiana
A 2022 report from Lake Charles NBC affiliate KPLC trawled through numerous parish public school district annual financial reports to uncover Louisiana’s largest school districts. Those with enrollment over 20,000 students are listed here and ranked by their accompanying superintendent salaries:
It’s easy to see the positive correlation between salary and parish size. Eight of the top-11 highest-paying parish school districts also appear in the top-11 highest-population parishes. If having a salary is important for you then gravitate towards the largest population centers.
Educational Leadership Degree Options in Louisiana: Doctorate and Master’s in Educational Leadership
We’ve researched and ranked every private non-profit college and university in the state that offers a graduate degree in educational leadership. In recognition of the fact that you’re a busy professional, it’s common for schools to offer online, evening, and weekend options so you can earn your degree on your own schedule.
Advancing your career into important leadership roles that make a difference –a difference Louisiana desperately needs– starts with a graduate education. Don’t let the opportunity to do something meaningful with your talents slip by!
Louisiana Christian University
M.Ed in Educational Leadership
University of Holy Cross
M.Ed in Educational Leadership
(Ed.D, Ph.D) in Executive Leadership
Xavier University of Louisiana
College of Arts and Science
Division of Education and Counseling
MA in Educational Leadership
Ed.D in Educational Leadership
MA in Curriculum and Instruction Special Interest-Teacher Leader-Non Certification
2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for education administrators, kindergarten through secondary. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2023.