Study: There is lack of information about principal evaluation

6 Feb

Moi wrote in Wallace Foundation study: Leadership matters in student achievement:

In New research: School principal effectiveness, moi said:

The number one reason why teachers leave the profession has to do with working conditions. A key influencer of the environment of a school and the working conditions is the school principal.

Gregory Branch, Eric Hanushek, and Steven Rivkin are reporting in the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Educational Research report, Estimating Principal Effectiveness:

VI. Conclusion

An important facet of many school policy discussions is the role of strong leadership, particularly of principals. Leadership is viewed as especially important in revitalizing failing schools. This discussion is, however, largely uninformed by systematic analysis of principals and their impact on student outcomes….

The initial results suggest that principal movements parallel teacher movements. Specifically, principals are affected by the racial and achievement distribution of students in schools, and this enters into mobility patterns. Yet the common view that the best leave the most needy schools is not supported.

An important element of the role of principals is how they interact with teachers. Our on-going analysis links principals to measures of teacher effectiveness to understand how principals affect teacher outcomes.

See, Principals Matter: School Leaders Can Drive Student Learning

In lay person speak, what they are saying is that a strong principal is a strong leader for his or her particular school. A strong principal is particularly important in schools which face challenges. Now, we get into the manner in which strong principals interact with their staff – is it an art or is it a science? What makes a good principal can be discussed and probably depends upon the perspective of those giving an opinion, but Gary Hopkins of Education World summarizes the thoughts of some educators.

These traits can be summarized that a strong principal is a leader with a vision for his or her school and who has the drive and the people skills to take his or her teachers and students to that vision.

Sarah D. Sparks writes in the Education Week article, States Lack Data on Principals, Study Says:

The Dallas-based George W. Bush Institute was expected to release an analysis of all 50 states’ principal policies and related data collectionsRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader in Washington this week. It finds that even states with otherwise comprehensive longitudinal-data systems collect limited information about principals, particularly on their preparation.

“Despite the growing body of research, most states are not requiring the use of evidence on principal quality in policy,” said Kerry Ann Moll, a co-author of the report and the program director for the Bush Institute’s Alliance to Reform Education Leadership.

“Seven states couldn’t even tell us how many licenses they give each year,” Ms. Moll said. “That’s a big basic-data problem.”

State Oversight of Principals

Many states have few policies and collect little information on how school principals are prepared, licensed, supported, or evaluated, according to the Bush Institute survey.

For some states, she said, collecting data on principals “was not even on their radar,” but others, like Rhode IslandRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader, are creating comprehensive systems to follow principals from their training programs through licensing, placement, and school leadership.

According to an analysis by the Washington-based Data Quality Campaign, a majority of states now collect data on teacher preparation and effectiveness, but, “you can’t just pull information on teachers and principals and assume the data needed is going to be the same for both,” Ms. Moll said. “There are nuances there.”

The study, based on a survey of state education leaders in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, identifies five key responsibilities of an effective school leader:

Recruiting and selecting teachers;

Developing and supporting teachers;

Assessing and rewarding teachers;

Using data to drive instruction; and

Developing a positive school culture.

“I do think we are asking more of principals than we’ve ever asked before,” said Benjamin Fenton, the chief strategy officer and a co-founder of the New York City-based principal-preparation program New Leaders. These include making principals lead academics, manage personnel, and keep tabs on the finances of their campuses.

State Oversight of Principals

Many states have few policies and collect little information on how school principals are prepared, licensed, supported, or evaluated, according to the Bush Institute survey.

SOURCE: George W. Bush Institute

Here is a portion of the introduction to the report, Operating in the Dark: What Outdated State Policies and Data Gaps Mean for Effective School Leadership,” looks at principal preparation and licensing policies in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Policy Recommendations

In conducting this survey, we did find that states recognize many of these shortfalls and are committed to building systems that support effective principals. Many states are already embarking on efforts to strengthen their policies and practices impacting school leaders. To assist states undertaking this important work, we offer policy recommendations, including:

Principal Preparation Program Approval

States need to understand the growing body of research highlighting the wide range of skills and behaviors that principals need to succeed in the highly complex and demanding job of school leader. This research should be incorporated into state requirements for principal preparation programs to ensure that programs produce high-quality candidates. Effective preparation programs include a number of key elements, including: being expressly designed to produce and place principals who improve student learning; having clearly defined principal competencies; strategically recruiting high-potential candidates into the program; using a rigorous candidate selection process; providing relevant coursework taught by faculty with practitioner experience; incorporating authentic learning experiences in real school settings; and ensuring that graduates demonstrate mastery of competencies.

States should allow organizations other than higher education institutions to be approved to provide principal preparation, as long as those programs meet the same rigorous standards.

States should monitor principal preparation program outcome data and hold programs accountable for producing effective principals.

Principal Licensure

States should move away from input-based principal licensing requirements such as years of teaching and degrees, which are not accurate proxies or predictors of principal effectiveness. For licensure to signal proof of competence, states should seek out a new form of performance based assessment that measures the more complex skills research shows effective schooleaders need to succeed. of competencies that correlate with principal effectiveness measures, including impact on student achievement. Leaders repeatedly receiving poor ratings should not have their licenses renewed.

Principal Outcome Data

States need to do more to ensure that their statewide longitudinal data systems can track principals as they move from principal preparation to licensure to school leadership positions. States need to be able to measure principals’ ability to secure jobs, retain jobs, demonstrate an impact on student achievement, and receive effective evaluation ratings. With this information, states can make strategic decisions and investments that result in a more highly qualified principal pool.

The research is clear that principals are a critical force in school improvement in that they are responsible for attracting and retaining teacher talent and driving the improvement of student learning.

It is our hope that this set of baseline data from the Principal Policy State Survey will promote further conversations and state-led efforts to ensure that every school in the nation is led by a highly prepared school leader who can produce student gains.                                                                                

Strong leadership is essential for struggling schools. Strong leadership requires not only accountability, but authority.


New research: School principal effectiveness

Are rules which limit choice hampering principal effectiveness?

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