Thursday, December 19, 2013

Principal Evaluation Models

Principal Evaluation Models

With the implementation of No Child Left Behind and, more recently, Race to the Top, more emphasis than ever is being placed on the concept of ‘student success’.  School districts are assessing the effectiveness of teachers and principals in an effort to improve education in America.

In New Jersey, a principal evaluation pilot program is under way.  Since 2010, New Jersey Department of Education has been working to improve education evaluation and supports.   According to the NJDOE website, “The principal evaluation pilot program is the next step in the effort to improve educator evaluation state-wide, following the recommendations of the 2011 Educator Effectiveness Task Force.”  According to the website, a new principal, assistant principal, or vice principal must be rated either effective or highly effective in two annual summative evaluations within the first three years of employment.  

In 2012, New Jersey state legislature unanimously passed the TEACHNJ Act, mandating new requirements for the statewide educator evaluation system and links tenure decisions to evaluation ratings.  The result: AchieveNJ, the improved evaluation and support system throughout New Jersey for the 2013-14 academic year. 

AchieveNJ is designed to recognize those who excel, identify those who need additional support, and provide meaningful feedback and professional development to help all principals become great school leaders.  It relies on multiple measures of performance to evaluate teachers and administrators. These measures include components of both student achievement and teacher practice.  NJDOE approved evaluation instruments include: James Stronge’s Leadership Effectiveness Performance Evaluation System, Dr. Robert Marzano’s Administrative Evlauation Model, and McRELS’s Principal Evaluation System.  

The overall evaluation score combines the multiple measures of principal practice and student growth. All New Jersey principals earn one of four ratings: Highly Effective, Effective, Partially Effective, or Ineffective. To maintain tenure, all principals have to continue to earn a rating of Effective or Highly Effective.  Any principal, assistant principal, or vice principal who is rated Ineffective or Partially Effective on his or her evaluation will receive additional support through a corrective action plan.   

  • Increases accountability beyond teachers.  All faculty members share the responsibility of ensuring the optimal student learning environment
  • Evaluations are assessed on research based criteria
  • Emphasizes change in low performing districts
  • Urges lower performing districts to engage in change - whether it is through new action plans or by bringing in a new principal

  • Evaluation process is time consuming
  • Training staff in new evaluation models is time consuming and expensive
  • New teacher evaluation is still in progress.  How will this impact the efficacy of new principal evaluation standards? 
  • The state isn’t involved in local community, making this another ‘top down’ policy that may not be able to tailor to each district’s particular needs
  • Reform measurements do not take into consideration social problems/obstacles outside the school that impact performance within the school - such as lower SES areas or heavily urbanized districts
  • Use of standardized tests mark success and progress for both students and teachers
    • Over emphasis of these measures doesn’t allow teacher and principals to address other needs of students
    • How does the Special Education population fit in with this evaluation system?

While it is imperative that schools continue to improve educational standards, it is equally important to set realistic goals.  Demanding excellent education for students is easy in theory, 
however, large scale changes can take years to implement.  When devising the strategies to ensure quality education, there are many obstacles to overcome.  Forcing too much change in a short period of time may not be the most effective practice.  However, no improvement occurs without change.  


Ornstein, A.C. & Hunkins, F.P. (2004). Curriculum: Foundations, principles, and issues.  Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

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