More states adopting laws which mandate principal evaluation

25 May

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 reported 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:

Top Ten Traits of School Leaders
Last month, 43 of the Education World Principal Files principals participated in a survey. The result of that survey is this list of the top ten traits of school leaders, presented in order of importance.
1. Has a stated vision for the school and a plan to achieve that vision.
2. Clearly states goals and expectations for students, staff, and parents.
3. Is visible — gets out of the office; is seen all over the school.
4. Is trustworthy and straight with students and staff.
5. Helps develop leadership skills in others.
6. Develops strong teachers; cultivates good teaching practice.
7. Shows that he or she is not in charge alone; involves others.
8. Has a sense of humor.
9. Is a role model for students and staff.
10. Offers meaningful kindnesses and kudos to staff and students.

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.

Denisa R. Superville wrote in the Education Week article, States Forge Ahead on Principal Evaluation:

Since 2010, at least 36 states have adopted laws requiring principals to undergo regular assessments and increasing the rigor of those reviews, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The changes reflect a shift from largely pro forma evaluations to complicated matrices that seek to tie principals’ effectiveness, in part, to student academic growth. The policies typically require that a percentage of a principal’s evaluation include student performance or growth. The amount ranges, for example, from 20 percent in Delaware to 50 percent of the overall score in states such as Georgia and Ohio.
But according to new, yet-to-be-published research, the growth of principal-evaluation policies has not been matched with corresponding study of their implementation, reliability, and effectiveness. Most of the attention and studies are geared toward similar systems for teachers…
The push to greater accountability for principals and teachers is due to a number of factors, according to the NCSL review of laws and policies adopted between 2010 and 2014.
The federal Race to the Top grant competition, launched in 2009, included such evaluation systems as a requirement for participants. More recently, in order for states to qualify for waivers from provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, student growth had to be considered as a “significant” factor in evaluating principals, although federal guidelines left the details up to the states.
But the NCSL also found a dearth of valid and reliable evaluation methods, and little emphasis on training for the evaluators….
Mr. Grissom recommends a system that, in addition to considering student performance and growth, would include a qualitative aspect with very specific descriptions of what constitutes “good” performance and require evidence collection, school visits, discussions with people who work with the principals, and surveys that could include parents, teachers, students, and those in the community.
A high reliance on test scores gives only a “narrow view” of principal and teacher performance, said Dick Flanary, a deputy executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Factors such as graduation rates, drop-out rates, literacy rates, and teacher turnover may be more appropriate measures to use, in his view.
His group and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, identify a number of other factors they say should taken into account in evaluations. They include professional growth and learning; student growth and achievement; school planning and progress; school culture; professional qualities and instructional leadership; and stakeholder support and engagement…
Competing Approaches
States are trying out a variety of ways to make student achievement a formal part of principal evaluations. New research sorts those approaches into a few common baskets:
“50-50” Percentage Model:
50 percent of the evaluation score is derived from student-outcome measures, usually student achievement or academic growth. This can include indicators such as graduation and attendance rates. The other 50 percent of the score often comes from a performance rubric, aligned with standards developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Example: Georgia
Matrix Model:
In most cases, 50 percent of the evaluation is based on student outcome or growth measures; the other 50 percent of the score comes from a performance rubric. However, the overall score is derived from a matrix table, rather than a percentage formula.
Example: Ohio
Student ‘Data Trump’ Model
Student growth/performance may account for less than half of the principal’s overall score; however, a principal cannot earn the highest rating or be deemed “highly effective” with low student performance/outcome data. In other words, student data “trumps” everything else.
Example: Delaware
SOURCES: Ellen Goldring, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University; Kelly Jones, Vanderbilt University

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.


The Performance Indicators for Effective Principal Leadership in Improving Student Achievement

Effective Schools: Managing the Recruitment, Development, and Retention of High-quality Teachers

What makes a great principal?


Wallace Foundation study: Leadership matters in student achievement

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