Contact: Julie Newport

Coalition recommends focus on professional development, multiple measures of performance data in support of student achievement

Washington, D.C.—September 13, 2012—Despite the widespread influence of the nation’s 95,000 principals on 3 million teachers and 55 million students—cited by the Wallace Foundation as second only to teaching among school influences on student success—most state and district frameworks for principal evaluation do not reflect existing standards or proven practices. In the context of federal demands for increased principal accountability, more rigorous teacher evaluation systems and next generation student assessment the country’s school leaders are calling for the adoption of a new set of policy guidelines and best practices that go beyond student test scores to evaluate school culture, professional growth and learning and other aspects of students’ learning environments that are directly influenced by school leaders.

Rethinking Principal Evaluation: A New Paradigm Informed by Research and Practice was introduced today by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) at a Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C.  With the introduction of this research-based framework, the coalition has launched a call to states and districts to adopt a new paradigm including the institution of multiple and meaningful measurement systems of principal and assistant principal effectiveness.

“NAESP has long been at the forefront of establishing standards of principal’s practice through its Leading Learning Communities standards initiative. It is essential to insert the principals’ voice and the standards 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. “This report was created by principals, for principals and takes the best of their expertise and pairs it with the latest research. Policymakers now have a clear path to follow and must establish principal evaluation systems that will build the capacity of principals to lead our nation’s schools,” Connelly further noted.

Developed by a joint committee of practicing principals over the past two years, the report identifies six key domains of school leadership that should be incorporated into principal 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.

Rethinking Principal Evaluation also identifies essential features of comprehensive evaluation systems—including systemic support, flexibility, relevance and utility—and a roadmap for policymakers to follow in the development of these systems. States and districts are encouraged to:

  • 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.

“Principal evaluation systems can be powerful tools to support the kind of schoolwide improvement efforts NASSP encourages in the Breaking Ranks framework,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “But those tools must be well constructed and well implemented to evaluate the leadership behaviors that really matter. School improvement is a process, not a destination. So an evaluation tool becomes valuable when it builds a leader’s capacity to advance the improvement process.”

The full report and executive summary is available online and is being released publicly at a September 13 NAESP/NASSP joint Congressional briefing. A panel of leading researchers and principals will present the key elements of effective principal evaluations and discuss the implications for policy.

Rethinking Principal Evaluation
A New Paradigm Informed by Research and Practice

Thursday, September 13, 2012
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
562 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.

Speakers Include*:

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
Janice Koslowski, Principal, Potomac Falls High School, Potomac Falls, VA

*Speakers are available for interviews upon request. Please contact Julie Newport, (202) 266-4718 or, for more information.



Established in 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) serves elementary and middle school principals in the United States, Canada, and overseas. NAESP leads in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle-level principals and other education leaders in their commitment to all children. For more information about NAESP, please visit


In existence since 1916, NASSP is the preeminent organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and aspiring school leaders from across the United States and more than 45 countries around the world. The mission of NASSP is to promote excellence in school leadership. To learn more about NASSP, visit