Also in DC: Principals get a dose of their own medicine

See all posts
And while we're on the subject of D.C., DCPS is also into its first year of a new evaluation system for principals. We asked Hilary Darilek, the district's Director of Principal Effectiveness, to provide an update on IMPACT for principals.

Why did DCPS decide to redesign principal evaluation and how is it different from the previous system?
Before, principal evaluations existed only on paper and were not used to focus principals on student achievement. We realized we needed to provide principals with the same level of specificity and clarity regarding their role as we were providing teachers.

How does the new principal evaluation work?
The IMPACT evaluation for principals is divided into two evenly-weighted categories: "Student Achievement" and "Leadership Outcomes." Student Achievement goals include student achievement growth and other broader goals like algebra pass rates, 9th grade promotion or graduation rates. Leadership assessments are conducted by principals' instructional superintendents twice a year, and are based on a set of rubrics that define excellence in leadership.

What kind of leadership development and professional support do DCPS principals receive and how do these tie into the evaluation?
Traditionally, our monthly Principals Academy focused on administrative and operations issues; we have renewed the focus on instruction, and our evaluation systems make these priorities live for people. It's not about the evaluations themselves, but rather about prioritizing the work in schools.

What advice would you give to other districts in the process of rethinking principal evaluations?
First, think about how you will collect, store and access evaluation data. The benefit of a system where school leaders and teachers can access real-time information about their performance, thereby increasing the transparency of the process, cannot be overstated.

Second, include assistant principals, principals and their managers in school leader evaluation design.

Third, collect enough information about the new system before making modifications. We're not making significant changes to IMPACT for principals because we need at least two years of data to assess what's working and what isn't.

Source: DCPS IMPACT Guidebook for Principals