What makes an effective school principal?


The executive summaries released by Clifford and Ross show “what the playing field is like” in terms of what studies and standards exist, Ross said. “The next step is to review more literature in detail and meet practitioners to come up with more concrete suggestions for the direction we should go in.”

Clifford said that he and Ross expect to release a fuller report in late September or early October. This report will inform the Principal Evaluation Project, which was launched July as a partnership between NAESP and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Using research from this recent report as a springboard, a committee jointly sponsored by the two associations will develop guidelines for more effective principal evaluation. Over a five- to eight-month period, about 20 practitioners—mostly K-12 principals, as well as facilitators from Johns Hopkins and AIR—will brainstorm through discussion threads and gather for several intensive in-person meetings.

NAESP’s Connelly said the new guidelines will build on current standards by drawing upon Clifford and Ross’s report, as well as previous research by the sponsoring committees such as “Leading Learning Communities” by NAESP and “Breaking Ranks” by NASSP.

The guidelines then will be vetted by stakeholder groups such as the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Connelly said she hopes involving these stakeholder groups in the design of the guidelines will expedite redesign of principal evaluation systems.

“The most important reason for us to engage in this work is to play an active role in creating—for the first time ever—comprehensive, fair guidelines and influencing at not only the policy, but also the practitioner level,” said Connelly.

Co-author Ross said he hopes the guidelines will inspire district and state systems to make improvements that “can ripple up to the federal level, and should.”

“Changes in a principal evaluation system can start with a superintendent and a few people in a meeting,” Ross said.

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.