The NPBEA was formed in response to recommendations contained in the 1987 report of the National Commission on Excellence in Educational Administration. Its early agenda sought to identify initiatives aimed at reforming preparation programs in educational leadership and developing initiatives to revitalize the professional of educational leadership, including the setting of national school and district leadership standards.  The NPBEA secured the funding to develop national standards for school leaders, although in 1994 in an effort to prevent duplication, the grant application to the Pew Trusts was amended to designate the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) as assuming primary responsibility for the work. The newly formed Inter-state School Leaders Licensure Consortium, which encompassed twenty- four states and members from the associations in the NPBEA, crafted the first set of national standards for school administrators that came to be known as the ISLLC Standards for School Leaders (Interstate School Leadership Licensure Consortium, 1996).

The ISLLC Standards were subsequently updated in 2008, and then it was decided to develop a new set of standards, which would more fully reflect the challenges of preparing students to succeed in the 21st Century. While continuing to be the national resource for school leadership issues, the NPBEA took a more central role in guiding development of the new Professional Standards for School Leadership, known as PSEL. It also formally assumed ownership of the new Standards from CCSSO in 2016.

For more history about the NPBEA refer to: