Principal evaluation: The next big reform?

Are principals not effective instructional leaders?


As states and districts have worked tirelessly to implement teacher effectiveness initiatives, largely driven by new and more rigorous teacher evaluation systems, the topic of principal evaluation has begun to take a more prominent role in the conversation.

And although principal evaluation is not a new concept, it is a fundamentally different conversation than it was several years ago. The field’s conception of what is possible relative to evaluative processes (i.e., using student achievement data to evaluate effectiveness) has significantly changed how we approach the process of evaluating both teachers and school leaders.

Several states and districts have begun to tackle the issue head on, working to ensure a rigorous and fair evaluation process is in place for school leaders. In fact, it appears that reform of principal evaluation systems is based, at least in part, on the fact that teacher evaluation systems have highlighted gaps in the effectiveness of school leaders to evaluate teachers effectively. Does this mean principals are not effective instructional leaders?  Perhaps not.

However, it has signaled to the field that there is work to be done when it comes to assessing the effectiveness of leaders in our schools. When coupled with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, which require exceptional instructional leadership, the field is ripe for examining how to ensure that principals are indeed effective at supporting teachers in the very important work of serving the students in their classrooms.

(Next page: Examining teacher evaluation effectiveness )

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at