This report is the fourth in a series of studies examining six districts’ experiences in The Wallace Foundation’s Principal Pipeline Initiative, a six-year effort designed to help these districts build larger pools of strong principals and then study the results. It explores the districts’ work to change their approach to principal performance evaluation so that it focuses on working with principals, especially novices, to grow into their jobs and concentrate on improving teaching and learning in their classrooms.
The report describes a number of facets of how the districts sought to refine evaluation and support, including:
- Using evaluation to help principals improve rather than to penalize them for shortcomings;
- Emphasizing both student achievement and sound principal work practices in the performance assessments;
- Encouraging regular conversations between principals and their supervisors; and
- Shifting the focus of the principal supervisor job from overseeing compliance with regulations to helping principals succeed as “instructional leaders.”
Most new principals agree that the districts’ revamped evaluations capture the breadth and complexities of their positions, and they have increasingly positive views of the support they are receiving from their supervisors. But the report also points to areas in need of improvement for the districts. Some principals suggest that their supervisors need to spend more time in schools or have yet to develop the level of trust needed for the principals to discuss their weaknesses candidly. Moreover, principals expressed limited satisfaction with the professional development they had received.
Other reports in this series explore the six districts’ efforts in areas including the creation of clear standards for principal performance, improvement of principal training programs, and establishment of data systems to assist in hiring and management of principal talent.