The importance of the principal evaluation process on student achievement



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Over the last 30 years, research has examined the role principals play in shaping school improvement and developing a foundation for student learning. This mixed methods study examined the relationship between school districts' principal evaluation processes and potential impact on student achievement in reading and mathematics. This study, conducted within 27 Texas school districts, surveyed principals and teachers from 41 campuses, as well as district office representatives.
This study was conducted in three parts. First, principals were administered the Principal Evaluation Attributes, Feedback and Perception survey to measure their perceptions concerning the evaluation process in the areas of accountability, increased student achievement, professional growth, incentives for improvement, adherence to policy, and fostering school climate. Next, district evaluation instruments were analyzed with student performance in reading and mathematics on the 2011 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skill assessment to determine if a relationship between the quality of district developed instruments and student performance existed. Findings indicated that there was no correlation between principal evaluation instruments and student achievement. Survey results indicated that evaluation processes within districts are perceived as merely a checklist for complying with district policy and have little impact on principal professional growth or student achievement. The second component of the study included semi-structured interviews with school district level officials who were responsible for conducting the principal evaluation process. The findings suggest principal supervisors concurred with the use of district developed checklists as a means to evaluate campus principals, but had a different perception in relationship to principal performance, use for professional development, and impact on student achievement. Finally, new to this body of research, was the capturing of teacher perceptions regarding specific principal behaviors that impact student achievement in relation to the principal evaluation process. On on-line survey of teachers from the 41 campuses from this study was conducted in the spring of 2015. Teachers in this study indicate that professional growth opportunities for the campus principal should focus on school wide improvements, not necessarily personal principal development. Teachers found effective principals implement classroom-coaching strategies to improve instruction, outline expectations, and mandate needed professional growth individualized for optimal teacher performance. Thus, effective principals align professional development identified through the analysis of multiple sources of data and relate those findings to specific areas of teacher professional growth. Critical in this process is the amount of time principals spend observing classroom instruction and providing effective feedback to classroom teachers.