Why should states strengthen principal evaluations?
Principals are the second-most important in-school factor related to student achievement. In fact, one study estimates that highly effective principals raise student achievement by an equivalent of between two and seven months of additional learning each school year compared to the average principal (Branch, Hanushek, and Rivkin, 2013).
Principals are also fundamental to building and retaining great instructional teams. Highly effective teachers are drawn to and thrive under great school leaders (Branch, Hanushek, and Rivkin, 2013).
Just ask any teacher—a great principal can make a world of difference. Given their importance, it’s critical that states support districts in identifying and developing effective school leaders. Rigorous, meaningful evaluations enable district administrators to do just that.
As with all model policy, this legislative framework is aspirational and based on a synthesis of existing research and strong state policies. The model policy below was developed from a review of various state legislation and policy recommendations and is not representative of any specific bill or recommendation. Many states currently may lack the capacity or certain elements to implement this policy fully, and instead may need to modify the language to reflect a phased approach.
- Requiring Local Evaluation of School Principals Centered on Student Learning.
- Evaluation of school principals. Each local school district shall develop and implement a performance evaluation system for elementary and secondary school principals that uses multiple measures aligned with growth in student achievement.
- Consultation with principals. The school principal performance evaluation system shall be developed and implemented in consultation with school principals, including obtaining systematic and continual input from principals, provided that policies, procedures, and performance goals for the performance evaluation system shall not be subject to collective bargaining.
- Evaluation system measures of performance. School principals shall be evaluated using multiple, fair, rigorous, transparent, and valid measures. Evaluation measures shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
- Schoolwide growth in student achievement as measured through state assessments and state-approved, locally designed assessments, consistent with rules issued by the department pursuant to Section 3.
- Schoolwide growth in student achievement for designated subgroups as defined by performance goals determined by the district in consultation with the school principal.
- Multiple additional measures correlated with impacts on student achievement for students in all subgroups, including the principal's ability to attract and retain highly effective teachers, management and development of an effective instructional team, and management of the school including its finances, space, and legal compliance, and
- School climate surveys of school staff and parents.
- Notice of evaluation measures and effectiveness ratings.
- School principals shall be given written notice in advance of the school year of the measures and any specific indicators to be used in their performance evaluation.
- Each school principal shall be rated according to one of at least four levels of effectiveness, designated as "Highly Effective," "Effective," "Needs Improvement," or "Ineffective," defined by the department or local school district, provided that the rating of "Effective" shall be based in significant part on the percentage of students who achieved at least one year's worth of growth for a school year of instruction, or otherwise achieved appropriate growth based on expectations derived from at least two years of individual student achievement data.
- Professional development and feedback. Districts shall design the performance evaluation system to inform and support professional development and opportunities for structured and informal feedback throughout the performance evaluation process.
- Implementation and Use of the Performance Evaluation.
- Full implementation. The department shall issue rules regarding the timeline for development and implementation of the performance evaluation system, including guidelines for piloting the system in advance of full implementation.
- Each district shall fully implement the performance evaluation for school principals pursuant to Section 1 not later than the second full school year following the effective date of this act.
- If a district fails to adopt an evaluation system consistent with the requirements and timelines of this act, or at the election of the district, the district shall use the default evaluation system developed by the department pursuant to Section 3.
- Use of evaluations.
- Districts shall provide targeted support and ongoing feedback and development for school principals based on the measures and results of the performance evaluation, and aligned to the specific needs of the principal and areas of improvement identified by the evaluation and performance goals.
- Districts shall use performance evaluations to inform all personnel decisions regarding school principals; individual decisions regarding retention, compensation and promotion, dismissals, and other staffing decisions including transfers, placements, and preferences in the event of reductions in force, shall be based primarily on results of the performance evaluation.
- Each principal contract and collective bargaining agreement entered into (including option years exercised) after the effective date of this act shall authorize use of evaluation results consistent with this section.
- Responsibilities of the State Department of Education.
- Regulations. The department shall issue regulations governing the development, approval, and implementation of local evaluation systems under Section 1. Such regulations shall be designed to preserve autonomy and flexibility for districts to adopt their own policies and processes for the performance evaluation system, consistent with Section 1.
- Student growth model and value-added system. The department shall develop, implement, and publicly disseminate a statewide student growth model and a value-added system for determining student growth on assessments for the purposes of performance evaluation.
- Technical assistance. The department shall provide technical assistance to districts in developing and implementing a local evaluation system under Section 1, including providing or helping to develop training for evaluators and a resource bank that identifies assessments, processes, tools, and policies that a district may use to develop and implement its evaluation system.
- Default evaluation system. The department shall develop a default performance evaluation system for school principals, consistent with Section 1, that shall be used by districts that are unable to develop their own system or that elect to use the state default system. Districts may customize the default system to reflect local needs and goals, provided the performance evaluation used is consistent with Section 1.
- Longitudinal data system. The department shall ensure that the state’s longitudinal data system incorporates links among individual principal evaluation, data for principal preparation programs in the state, and achievement data for individual students.
- Monitoring. The department shall provide for ongoing monitoring of local evaluation systems established under Section 1 to ensure that evaluation outcomes are consistent in the aggregate with student achievement and growth at the district and school levels, and that the evaluation systems meet the requirements of this act and corresponding implementing regulations issued by the department. The department shall direct corrective actions as appropriate.