by Elizabeth Bleacher
The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) partnered to release Rethinking Principal Evaluation: A New Paradigm Informed by Research and Practice at a Congressional briefing this month. The report was developed by practicing principals in response to demands for higher principal responsibility within schools. “It is essential to insert the principals’ voice in the redevelopment or refinement of evaluation systems to change practice to improve schools,” said Gail Connelly, Executive Director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
Six Key Domains of School Leadership
Rethinking Principal Evaluation stresses the importance of leadership within schools. The report acknowledges that the influence of leadership is strongest at the schools that need it the most. These points put emphasis on the importance of developing successful leadership through effective evaluation. The report outlines six key domains of leadership that it maintains should be considered in principal evaluations. Those six domains are:
Essential Features of Comprehensive Evaluation Systems
- Professional growth and learning;
- Student growth and achievement;
- School planning and progress;
- School culture;
- Professional qualities and instructional leadership; and
- Stakeholder support and engagement.
At its core, the report is a set of guidelines that policymakers can use to cultivate a consistent measurement system for the success of principals and associate principals. “The key element is that this is a framework for states and districts to develop their evaluation programs,” said Richard M. Long, Director of Government Relations at the International Reading Association. The shortcomings of past evaluation methods only serve to highlight the importance of the comprehensive systems outlined within the report.
The research contained in Rethinking Principal Evaluation acknowledges that there are some shared features that make evaluation systems effective. These features –including systemic support, flexibility, relevance and utility–help the evaluation system be applied to a range of institutions based on unique criteria. However, the report also provides more specific guidelines to help policymakers enforce and develop these systems.
The report suggests that policymakers should:
- Consider student, school, and community contexts;
- Incorporate standards that can improve practice;
- Use evaluation to build capacity; and
- Focus on multiple measures of performance data.
Overall, the report takes an extensive look at principal evaluation and offers a research-based framework for its improvement. The report encourages policymakers to adopt its new paradigm, uniquely based on research, for comprehensive principal evaluation.
More information on Rethinking Principal Evaluation: A New Paradigm Informed by Research and Practice can be found at the National Association of Elementary School Principals’ website, along with an executive summary and the full report.
Elizabeth Bleacher is the strategic communications intern at the International Reading Association.