NCDPI Standards for Graduate Programs

Standards approved by the State Department of Public Instruction for Masters Degrees.


The North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards Commission developed teaching standards based on a “new vision of teaching” in light of 21st century opportunities, needs and demands.

 The following five graduate program standards are parallel to and expand upon those standards. These are advanced standards, appropriate for teacher education programs to use as guidelines in developing their graduate level teaching programs.

 Teachers granted the master’s degree license are expected to be teacher leaders in their specialty area, to facilitate the creation of healthy educational environments, to have deep knowledge and skills in their content and curriculum, to use research in making decisions about effective practice for student learning, and to be continuous, reflective practitioners who model the values of lifelong learning, critical thinking, problem-solving and innovation.

Standard 1: Teacher Leadership

Teacher leaders assume the roles and responsibilities of collaborative leaders in schools and communities. Teachers demonstrate leadership in their classrooms, schools and professional organizations; they advocate for students and effective educational practices and policies; and they are role models for ethical leadership. Teacher leaders will know and be able to:

  • Demonstrate effective ongoing communication, collaboration, and team-building among colleagues.
  • Facilitate mentoring and coaching with novice teachers.
  • Set goals and establish priorities while promoting educational initiatives that positively affect student learning.
  • Participate in professional learning communities.

Standard 2: Respectful Educational Environments

Teacher leaders model leadership by establishing a positive and productive environment for a diverse population of students, their families, and the community. Teachers are knowledgeable about cultures and global issues and how they are contextualized locally. Teachers help colleagues develop effective strategies for students with special needs. They encourage positive, constructive relations among colleagues and students. Teacher leaders:

  • Facilitate the development of inviting, respectful, supportive, inclusive, and flexible educational communities.
  • Create collaborative partnerships with families, schools, and communities to promote a positive school culture.
  • Facilitate and model caring and respectful treatment of individuals within the learning community.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of diverse world cultures and global issues.
  • Encourage high expectations for all students.
  • Collaboratively design and implement curriculum and instruction that is responsive to learner differences.

Standard 3: Content and Curriculum Expertise

Teacher leaders have a deep knowledge of the subjects they teach and understanding of curriculum theory and development. They value collaboration and the interconnectedness of disciplines. They understand the importance of curriculum relevance in engaging students in content. Teacher leaders:

  • Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
  • Model the integration of 21st century content and skills into educational practices.
  • Develop relevant, rigorous curriculum.

Standard 4: Student Learning

Teacher leaders facilitate student learning through evidence-based practice informed by research. They understand and apply research in child and adolescent development, cognitive development, and general and specialized pedagogy. They encourage critical reading, writing and thinking in the learning process. They foster instructional and evaluation methods that embrace variety and authenticity. They promote student reflection and self-assessment. They encourage colleagues and students to take on leadership roles and work in teams. Teacher leaders:

  • Seek out and use existing research to inform school practices.
  • Design action research to investigate and improve student learning and school policies and practices.
  • Model technology integration that supports student learning.
  • Critically analyze student and school performance data to determine needs and plan instruction that is rigorous, coherent, and substantiated within a theoretical and philosophical base.

Standard 5: Reflection

Teacher leaders contribute to systematic, critical analysis of learning in their classrooms and beyond. They are lifelong learners who model and support ongoing professional development. Teachers embrace critical thinking, problem solving, and innovation. Teacher leaders:

  • Promote an educational culture that values reflective practice.
  • Model the development of meaningful professional goals.
  • Model personal and professional reflection to extend student learning and school improvement.