I recently had the opportunity to work with a sharp group of administrators from across the state of Texas. Together, we reviewed a proposal for a new evaluation tool (Principal Evaluation and Support System) for school principals in Texas, with the task of eventually creating a practical rubric for implementation. Currently, principal evaluation tools are locally created and adopted. The act of creating a statewide tool for principal evaluation highlights the importance of school leadership in creating the conditions for student success.
To underscore this notion, facilitators at the Texas Comprehensive Center shared 25% of a school’s impact comes from leadership and an effective school leader can improve learning from 2-7 months per year. The messages, actions, and focus from the school leader seep into the classroom experience.
While the process of creating the evaluation form is an ongoing process continuing throughout the Spring, the premise of the rubric is intriguing for school leaders. Texas is creating an instrument focusing on principal leadership behaviors that most impacts student learning. In fact, the standards are intensely focused on student learning instead of managerial tasks.
Below are the standards, without the indicators associated with them. It is important (and encouraging) to note that there are only 17 indicators associated with the 5 standards (3-4 indicators per standard).
- Instructional Leadership: The principal is responsible for ensuring every student receives high quality instruction.
- Human Capital: The principal is responsible for ensuring there are high quality teachers and staff in every classroom and throughout the school.
- Executive Leadership: The principal demonstrates a relentless focus and personal responsibility for improving student outcomes.
- School Culture: The principal is responsible for establishing and implementing a shared vision and culture of high expectations for all students.
- Strategic Operations: The principal implements systems that align with the school’s vision and improve the quality of instruction.
The group still has a challenging mission in front of them. In the next few months, we’ll attempt to create an evaluation tool that allows for honest conversations about observable leadership behaviors. We will also wrestle with formatting an evaluation tool that sets a clear expectation for instructional leadership, while staying user friendly for both the appraiser and appraisee. There are also important needs ahead, like trying to specifically address needs of equity, while keeping the system focused.
Still, the focus provided by this proposed instrument allows principals to prioritize leadership focused on student learning in the midst of a complex and demanding job.