TO IMPROVE OUTCOMES FOR ALL STUDENT
Among my research interests as a Lecturer in the Education Leadership doctorate program at California State University, Fullerton is administrator evaluations.
Any discussion about transforming school culture to ensure that high expectations are translated into district and school policies and classroom practices is incomplete without including an effective administrator evaluation system as a non-negotiable element. I refer to an evaluation system as all of the components of the process by which principals and other education leaders are evaluated.
I refer to an effective evaluation system as one which places 70% of its weight on the ability of leaders to increase student achievement and teacher effectiveness outcomes, with the remaining 30% focused on operational elements (i.e. demonstration of effective practices and leadership actions).
Reeves, Goldring, Marzano and numerous others have reported that administrator evaluation systems are largely unfocused or focus on the wrong things. They usually lack clear performance standards and rigor in design and attention to implementation. In a paper titled, Evaluating Principal: Balancing Accountability with Professional Growth (2010), New Leaders for New Schools, a non-profit organization that develops open-source tools for use by states and districts, reported that bringing significant improvements in student achievement and teacher effectiveness to scale will require substantial improvements in the policies and practices that contribute to the effectiveness of principals. This is a large agenda for change and it can only succeed if an accurate and comprehensive measure of effectiveness is institutionalized.
In a recent dicussion with my doctoral candidates, I found that only a handful were aware of leadership standards in their organization. Or, more accurately, that a set of standards were used to judge the effectiveness of their leadership work. The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nationwide, nonpartisan, and nonprofit membership organization, the only one of its kind to bring together the top education leaders from every state in the nation. They have recently published new (updated from 2007) standards known as the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards. Take a look at this comparison of the ISLLC 2007 standards and the 2015 standards.
Another valuable resource for leaders interested in identifying best practices for administrator evaluations is an evaluation rubric published by the before-mentioned New Leaders, a national non-profit organization committed to developing transformational school leaders and advancing the policies and practices that allow great leaders to succeed. This tool is particularly valuable because it provides examples of evidence in addition to a 4-point rating system.
In the same discussion with my students that I referred to earlier in this piece, I was also informed that most have never experienced an effective evaluation process - as an administrator or as a teacher. What they have experienced is eerily familiar with what many policymakers fear most - a lack of accountability.