Principal Effectiveness: Vermont

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 Vermont's policies

Objective Student Growth Measures: Vermont does not require that student growth play a role in principal evaluations. The state has outlined a Leader Evaluation Review Rubric, which is based on its guidelines. For a system to be rated effective under Vermont's rubric, the evaluation must include "a specific moment to look at student achievement metrics that pertain to that evaluatee." For a system to be highly effective, it must include "a systematic process for considering student achievement based on stakeholder input." It does not appear that these are requirements; however, these criteria indicate what is explicitly recommended by the state.

Link to Teacher Effectiveness/Instructional Leadership: Vermont state policy does not establish a link between principal evaluations and teacher effectiveness/instructional leadership. Sample indicators for the "Teaching and Learning" standard include: teacher retention rates, evidence of effective support for new teachers and those on improvement plans, and evidence of the fair and transparent application of teacher evaluations.

Improvement Plans: Vermont does not require improvement plans for ineffective principals but recommends such plans in its principal evaluation guidelines.

Surveys: Vermont explicitly allows staff, parent, and student surveys for the purposes of principal evaluation. 

Citation

Recommendations for Vermont

Require objective measures of student growth to play a role in principal evaluation ratings.
There is a clear link between school leadership and school outcomes. Therefore, Vermont should require principal evaluations to include objective measures of student growth. This will allow 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, Vermont 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.
Vermont 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

Vermont recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

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.