Take Charge of Principal Evaluations

By Jacie Maslyk
Principal, January/February 2014

Comprehensive principal evaluation systems can be an effective way to support the professional growth of instructional leaders, helping them to learn, grow, and improve schools. As states and districts across the nation take steps towards developing systems and improving evaluation processes, Pennsylvania districts are implementing the Framework for Leadership set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The research used to develop this model is based on a review of work from other states, the Core and Corollary Standards, which detail the skills and abilities for effective principals, as well as a review of relevant research. The model shares strategic goals with the Danielson Framework for Teaching, which is also used in the district. The rubric assesses four domains:

  • Strategic/cultural leadership;
  • Systems leadership;
  • Leadership for learning; and
  • Professional and community leadership.

In an effort to increase communication and collaboration, the superintendent meets with building principals and other administrators in the summer to set goals for the upcoming year. A mid-year meeting is held during the winter to review progress on goals. Last, an end-of-year meeting is held so that the summative evaluation can be completed. Principals are also encouraged to compile evidence throughout the year to support their personal and professional growth in each domain.

Accurately measuring principal effectiveness is an important discussion at the district, state, and national level. But, this can’t be a topic just for policymakers and superintendents; principals must take a leading role and include their voices in this important conversation. Here are four ways that principals can maximize the evaluation experience, regardless of the model that is used.

1 Know the standards for measurement. Be familiar with the tool your supervisor uses to evaluate performance. Whether it is a rubric, student achievement data, a portfolio system, or a combination of these elements, understanding the expectations and the method of measurement will help you gather the necessary evidence to demonstrate progress in each area.

2 Set goals that connect to district initiatives. Aligning building-level goals to district-level goals engages all educators in a common purpose. Include goals that fit within an area of interest for teachers and building leaders to ensure school commitment to achieving goals.

3 Keep your supervisor well informed. The evaluation process isn’t always a two-way street. Work to build a relationship by keeping your superintendent abreast of the happenings in your building. Send periodic updates via email, or set aside time every quarter to meet to ensure that they are aware of the progress towards the goals.

4 Create positive PR. Getting the word out about the great things happening in your school is critical. Principals can take this proactive approach by sending out newsletters, posting a principal’s blog, or communicating with local media. These strategies help to publicize student accomplishments, classroom activities, and school events, while also raising community awareness, engaging parents in your school, and informing your supervisor.

Jacie Maslyk is principal of Crafton Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


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