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Frequently Asked Questions About the ETS® Performance Assessment for School Leaders (PASL)

What is the ETS® Performance Assessment for School Leaders (PASL) and who needs to take it?

The ETS Performance Assessment for School Leaders (PASL) consists of three tasks. Each of the three tasks takes place during a candidate’s clinical experience and focuses on addressing a problem/challenge, developing continuous professional development and building a collaborative culture. During the clinical experience, the candidate’s internship provides a variety of artifacts, including student work, observation feedback and video segments that will be submitted as part of the tasks.

The PASL assessment is one of several vehicles that determines if a candidate is prepared to enter the field of administration. It is taken during the candidate’s clinical experience before exiting an educator preparation program. The candidate’s score for this assessment is one of the factors that determines acceptance into the profession.

Who created the PASL assessment?

The PASL assessment was developed by education experts and is aligned with the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL). Advisory committees of distinguished administrators helped determine test content and reviewed, revised and approved all guiding prompts and activities. The assessment is grounded in current research, including a comprehensive analysis of the most important tasks and skills required of beginning instructional leaders.

What does the PASL assessment measure?

The PASL assessment provides:

  • a meaningful measure of a school leader candidate's readiness and ability to provide effective instructional leadership
  • a comprehensive picture of a school leader as an instructional leader

The PASL assessment is aligned with national and state specific school leader standards. See below for specific alignment to the standards.

What is covered on each task?

See Task Requirements.

When is the PASL assessment administered?

The PASL assessment is offered twice a year — once in the spring and once in the fall. The tasks are designed to be administered throughout a candidate's clinical experience.

Who scores the PASL assessment?

The tasks are centrally scored by raters who are current administrators, or have been administrators within the last four years, and members of the educational preparation community teaching future school leaders. The scores on the tasks provide states with greater score validity and consistent, reliable data for program decisions.

When are scores available?

Individuals at your program with approval to access scores in the ETS® Data Manager will be able to retrieve scores approximately four weeks after the assessment submission deadline. See Score Report Dates.

As an EPP, what are my parameters in working with candidates during their clinical experience?

The clinical experience of educational leader candidates represents the application of knowledge and skills learned during course work at the candidate's institution. And, although the clinical experience is an integral part of the course work when the PASL is completed, all of the task responses should be beyond the inclusion of the EPP's planned curriculum.

Can the PASL Tasks be embedded within our leadership courses?

EPPs should provide instructional activities that support candidates in obtaining the knowledge and skills needed to successfully complete the PASL tasks.

  • EPP instructors can assess and provide feedback using the instructor's or university's expectations and rubrics on assignments that test takers MAY select to use as part of their submission for a PASL task.
  • Assignments should not include the actual PASL guiding prompts and should not be graded using the PASL rubrics. Instead, assignments should be graded using criteria determined by the EPP program.
  • Assignments can include artifacts that candidates may use as a part of their PASL tasks.
  • Instructional assignments can be similar to parts of the PASL tasks and can even ask candidates to select topics, include written responses, and request one or more artifacts that could be used or adapted by candidates when submitting their PASL task responses.
  • Instructional activities and assignments should allow candidates to have multiple experiences to draw from when creating their PASL task submissions. Various shorter instructional assignments can provide multiple opportunities for candidates to grow as educational leaders in the areas assessed by the PASL assessment.
  • Some universities require performance-based assignments and candidate portfolios as a part of their program. The process of creating these collections of graded assignments can provide valuable experiences and artifacts that candidates may choose to draw from when submitting their PASL tasks. EPP instructors should refrain from coaching candidates when selecting assignments to use and adapt for their PASL submission.
Can faculty advise candidates on the PASL Tasks (i.e., talking through the task requirements, keeping them abreast of ETS deadlines, and reading the Tasks to ensure all prompts have been addressed)?

When providing content support, faculty and mentors should:

  • review the assessment and the assessment process
  • check for understanding of the task requirements, rubrics and handbook
  • share only information that is public for all school leader candidates
  • provide direction on how candidates prepare, plan and manage deadlines
  • know, understand and uphold the assessment's policies and guidelines
  • acknowledge and respect the fact that the responsibility for developing and submitting the performance assessment rests solely and completely with the candidate
  • ensure that candidates understand that breaches of trust and confidentiality may destroy the validity of the assessment and may negatively affect the reputations of school leader candidates
  • immediately report violations of confidentiality, incidents of falsified information or materials, and breaches of security

Some additional ways you can help candidates:

  • Engage in discussions with candidates about the tasks, the rubric, the PASL assessment website, the library of examples and the handbook.
    • Discuss and brainstorm with candidates the fit between the tasks and potential topics. Consider: Will the potential topic allow for quality responses to all guiding prompts and requested artifacts?
  • Help candidates see the importance of these key steps by:
    • developing a timeline for completing the assessment
    • addressing all parts of all the guiding prompts
    • linking all the artifacts within the correct textboxes in each step
    • having candidates review their written commentary and artifacts against the rubric
    • encouraging candidates to keep a copy of all commentary and artifacts submitted
    • having candidates obtain required permission forms
Whether they are embedded or not, to what extent are we allowed to critique, advise, and grade the Tasks? Are we allowed to review them before they are submitted to ETS?

As part of required coursework, candidates and educators may engage in professional discussions and activities related to the tasks. However, the work that candidates submit in response to each performance assessment task must be theirs and theirs alone. The written commentaries, student work and other artifacts, as well as the video recording must feature candidates' interactions with colleagues and the work that the candidate facilitated within the school or district setting.

Faculty and mentors should avoid engaging in the following:

  • making choices for the candidates
  • correcting a task
  • assigning a score to a task or in any other way evaluating responses
  • giving an assignment that asks candidates to respond to a task's guiding prompts
  • using the task rubrics to score an assignment
In scoring the tasks, is any subjective consideration given that probably most of these candidates are not and have not served in any type of administrative position, so their responses would be quite different from someone with real-life experiences? Should, and if so, how could raters be prepared for responses that reflect, for the most part, a total lack of administrative experience, other than that gained through the EPP?

Raters are trained to give consideration to the fact that the submission is from a candidate who has limited experience in the field when scoring the assessment. Additionally, all training responses (benchmark, training, certification and calibration) come from candidates in their internship year; therefore, they reflect those with limited experience. The various rubric score points reflect candidates at this level as well.

What are the "checks and balances" in place to ensure that the level of scoring is maintained from rater to rater? What is in place to prevent one rater from scoring harder than another, thus creating different levels of expectations depending on the rater assigned to the task?

Raters are calibrated on an ongoing basis to ensure they are scoring accurately and are not allowed to begin operationally scoring if they do not meet specific accuracy levels. There is also scoring leadership monitoring the scoring event with back reading regularly occurring.

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Become a Rater

ETS will soon hire raters for online scoring of the PASL assessment. If you are interested, please check the ETS Online Scoring opportunities information.