Principal Effectiveness: District of Columbia

2017 Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy

Goal

The state should meaningfully assess principal performance. This goal was new in 2017.

Meets a small part

Analysis of District of Columbia's policies

Objective student growth measures: The District of Columbia does not require student growth to be a factor in a principal's evaluation rating.

Link to teacher effectiveness/instructional leadership: The District of Columbia does not explicitly link principal evaluations and teacher effectiveness/instructional leadership.

Improvement plans: The District of Columbia does not require that principals rated less-than-effective be placed on improvement plans.

Surveys: The District of Columbia explicitly allows parent, staff, and/or student surveys in principal evaluations. 

Citation

Recommendations for District of Columbia

Require objective measures of student growth to play a role in principal evaluation rating.
There is a clear link between school leadership and school outcomes. Therefore, the District of Columbia should require principal evaluations to include objective measures of student growth. This will allow local school districts to more accurately identify effective principals, who are more adept at attracting and retaining effective teachers.

Make an explicit link between principal evaluation and teacher effectiveness/instructional leadership.
Because the time principals spend on organizational management, instructional programming, and teacher evaluation is critically important for positive effects on both teachers and students, the District of Columbia should evaluate its principals—to some degree—on teacher effectiveness and instructional leadership.

Ensure that principals receiving less-than-effective ratings are placed on a professional improvement plan.
The District of Columbia should adopt a policy requiring principals who receive even one less-than-effective evaluation rating to be placed on structured improvement plans. These plans should identify noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies, and describe how and when progress will be measured.

State response to our analysis

The District of Columbia was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.  It noted that the ESSA only requires local school districts to report data on teacher effectiveness in compliance with the equitable access initiative in the law.  ESSA has no mandate for local school districts to report data on a school-based administrator's performance.  District policy must allow local school districts autonomy and flexibility in their school operations and data reporting outside of required federal mandates, this student growth as a "significant" part of a principal's evaluation rating is not required for reporting.

The District added that its policy does not link principal evaluations to teacher effectiveness/instructional leadership because ESSA has no federal mandate for districts to report data on a school-based administrator's performance, and its policy must allow districts autonomy and flexibility in this area.  

The District also noted that it does not require that principals rated less-than-effective be placed on improvement plans because ESSA has no federal mandate for districts to comply with this initiative, and thus its policy must allow districts autonomy and flexibility in this area.  

Finally, the District reinforced that it recommends the use of parent, staff, and/or student surveys but does not require them.  This authority is deferred to the discretion of the districts.

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

7G: Principal Effectiveness

  • Student Growth: The state should require objective measures of student growth to be used in part to determine principal effectiveness.
  • Evaluation and Instructional Leadership: The state should require principal evaluations to contain an explicit link to teacher effectiveness or instructional leadership.
  • Improvement Plans: The state should require that all principals who are rated as less than effective be placed on improvement plans.
  • Surveys: The state should require or explicitly allow surveys (e.g., school climate, teacher, student, school community) to be used in part to determine principal effectiveness.
Student Growth
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following: 

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires objective measures of student growth to be used in part to determine principal effectiveness.
Evaluation and Instructional Leadership
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following: 

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if principal evaluations contain an explicit link to teacher effectiveness or instructional leadership.
Improvement Plans
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires principals who have been rated as ineffective to be placed on improvement plans.
Surveys
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following: 

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires or explicitly allows surveys (e.g., school climate, teacher, student, school community) to be used in part to determine principal effectiveness.

Research rationale

Research demonstrates that there is a clear link between school leadership and school outcomes.[1] Principals foster school improvement by shaping school goals, policies and practices, and social and organizational structures.[2] Principals vary significantly in their effectiveness, and research suggests that high-quality principals positively affect student achievement, in-school discipline, parents' perceptions of schools, and school climates.[3] Further, principals affect teacher retention and recruitment;[4] effective principals are more adept at retaining effective teachers and removing ineffective teachers.[5] The time principals spend on organizational management, instructional programming, and teacher evaluation is critically important for positive effects on teachers and students.[6] Because principals are an essential component of creating successful schools, their effectiveness should be regularly evaluated by trained evaluators on systems that include objective measures. Such systems will help to ensure that all principals receive the feedback and support necessary to improve their practice and, ultimately, student and school outcomes.


[1] Clifford, M., Hansen, U. J., & Wraight, S. (2014). Practical guide to designing comprehensive principal evaluation systems: A tool to assist in the development of principal evaluation systems. Center on Great Teachers and Leaders.; Rice, J. K. (2010). Principal effectiveness and leadership in an era of accountability (Brief 8). National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.; Glasman, N. S., & Heck, R. H. (1992). The changing leadership role of the principal: Implications for principal assessment. Peabody Journal of Education, 68(1), 5-24.
[2] Hallinger, P., & Heck, R. H. (1998). Exploring the principal's contribution to school effectiveness: 1980-1995. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 9(2), 157-191.
[3] Branch, G. F., Hanushek, E. A., & Rivkin, S. G. (2012). Estimating the effect of leaders on public sector productivity: The case of school principals (No. w17803). National Bureau of Economic Research.; Louis, K. S., Leithwood, K., Wahlstrom, K. L. Anderson, S. E., Michlin, M., & Mascall, B. (2010). Learning from leadership: Investigating the links to improved student learning. Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement/University of Minnesota and Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto, 42, 50.; Clark, D., Martorell, P., & Rockoff, J. (2009). School principals and school performance (No. w17803). National Bureau of Economic Research.; Leithwood, K., Louis, K. S., Anderson, S., & Wahlstrom, K. (2004). How leadership influences student learning: A review of research for the Learning from Leadership Project. New York: The Wallace Foundation.
[4] Boyd, D., Grossman, P., Ing, M., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2011). The influence of school administrators on teacher retention decisions. American Education Research Journal, 48(2), 303-333; Kimball, S. (2011). Strategic talent management for principals. In Strategic management of human capital in education: Improving instructional practice and student learning in schools (pp. 133-152). New York, NY: Routledge Publishing; Rice, J. K. (2010). Principal effectiveness and leadership in an era of accountability (Brief 8). National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.; Clark, D., Martorell, P., & Rockoff, J. (2009). School principals and school performance (No. w17803). National Bureau of Economic Research. 
[5] Beteille, T., Kalogrides, D., Loeb, S. (2009). Effective schools: Managing the recruitment, development, and retention of high-quality teachers (Working Paper 37). National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.
[6] Grissom, J. A., & Loeb, S. (2011). Triangulating principal effectiveness: How perspectives of parents, teachers, and assistant principals identify the central importance of managerial skills. American Educational Research Journal, 48(5), 1091-1123.; Horng, E. L., Klasik, D., & Loeb, S. (2010). Principal's time use and school effectiveness. American Journal of Education, 116(4), 491-523.; Catano, N., & Stronge, J. H. (2007). What do we expect of school principals? Congruence between principal evaluation and performance standards. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 10(4), 379-399.