On Thursday, September 13, 2012 I had the opportunity to attend an educational briefing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC hosted by the National Association of Elementary Principals (NAESP), the National Association of Secondary Principals (NASSP), Johns Hopkins University, and the American Institutes for Research to release a new collaborative framework and guide for policymakers and practitioners on effective principal evaluation found in their new publication titled: "Rethinking Principal Evaluation." Speakers at the briefing included Steve Ross, Center for Research and Reform in Education, Johns Hopkins University; Matthew Clifford, Senior Research Scientist, American Institutes for Research; Jon Millerhagen, Principal, Washburn Elementary School, Bloomington, MN; and Janice Koslowski, Principal, Potomac Falls High School, Potomac Falls, VA.
The panelists began by reminding briefing attendees that "the research to date on principal evaluation suggests that many state and district evaluations do not reflect existing principal standards or proven practices, and many principal evaluation instruments are neither technically sound or useful for improving principal performance - despite the proven importance of the principal to school and student success." The panelists also said that there are better ways to evaluate principals than the sole use of student test scores since principals have a ripple (or indirect) effect on student achievement because they work through teachers vs. working with students directly. Principals provide the conditions, resources, and inspiration to teachers to improve their practice.
The principal evaluation framework presented at the briefing addresses principals' desire for better feedback to grow their leadership practice. "Rethinking Principal Evaluation" is the only comprehensive body of knowledge and practice on principal evaluation. It not only captures principal voice and the areas they agree they should be evaluated on, it also insists that principal evaluation become a process to improve practice. As Steve Ross states at the briefing: "Since we can't replace principals effectively and can't evaluate principals validly, then we need to focus on principal improvement." This new framework delineates six areas of principal influence that need to be measured in a principal evaluation process. The framework requires multiple sources of data to measure principal effectiveness.
The six areas of principal influence that comprise the evaluation framework are: (1) Professional Growth and Learning; (2) Student Growth and Achievement; (3) School Planning and Progress; (4) School Culture; (5) Professional Qualities and Instructional Leadership; and (6) Stakeholder Support and Engagement. Interestingly enough, only the dimension of Professional Qualities and Instructional Leadership directly links to current leadership standards.
From the beginning the panelists were quick to caution that the framework is not an evaluation process; instead, they are guidelines for states and districts to use to develop/select an evaluation process and instruments. John Mullerhagen, Principal of Washburn Elementary School, emphasizes that principals need to be evaluated on areas they directly control and influence. Janice Koslowski, Principal of Potomac Falls High School, says this framework matters because it drives the capacity of school leaders to be effective and drives very honest conversation between the principal and his/her supervisor. Matthew Clifford said that the intent of this document is to increase the fairness of principal evaluation systems and he hopes that this document will move evaluation practice forward.
The presenters urged the federal government to continue its
emphasis on principal effectiveness, multiple measures, and overall support of
principals. They urged state and
district policymakers to: relook at their newly developed principal evaluation
systems to see if these six areas are included; ensure consistency across the
states and districts; allow principals to have the opportunity to "sharpen the
saw" via ongoing professional learning; and include professional learning and
the funding to support it in their policies.
 Taken from the release a new collaborative framework and guide for policymakers and practitioners on effective principal evaluation found here: http://www.naesp.org/sites/default/files/PrincipalEvaluationReportExecutiveSummary.pdf