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Evaluate School Principals

Strategy 1.2: Evaluate principals on their ability to drive student outcomes, and to attract, retain, manage, and develop excellent teachers.

StudentsFirst will push for meaningful evaluations of school leaders, because absent strong leadership, teachers and schools cannot deliver for their students.

Just as teachers should be rated by the performance of their students, principals should be rated by the performance of their schools. Good school leaders can set high expectations for instruction and learning, they can help improve instruction, and they can build a climate where teachers trust and find value in their evaluations. In contrast, weak school leaders erode school quality by not demanding or supporting excellence.

While the largest single factor in principal evaluations should be school-level student outcomes, a principal's ability to attract, develop, and retain effective teachers must also factor highly. By using both student achievement and quality teacher recruitment and retention as primary measures, districts can ensure that school leaders are evaluated on what matters most: the level of teacher effectiveness in their school. The balance of principal evaluations must then focus on other critical responsibilities, including financial and space management and legal compliance issues. Finally, principals should also be measured in part on how well parents are engaged in their schools. While this can present great challenges, parent involvement speaks volumes about a school culture. As a school leader, the principal has the unique ability to foster an environment that connects parents with their children's education.

Too many people in school systems experience a disconnect between their work and the success of the students their system serves. Clear expectations and accountability measures are critical for employees at all levels and these expectations must always acknowledge the core mission of the organization. Other administrator evaluations should align with those for principals, ensuring that the performance of every adult in the building ties to drivers of the academic growth of the students in their school. Holding all managers accountable through meaningful evaluation that places the focus on the students' interests will help raise student achievement. A good system will ensure that every adult feels responsible for the success of the students in their schools.