The data and analysis on this page is from 2019. View and download the most recent policy data and analysis on Principal Evaluation and Observation in Wisconsin from the State of the States 2022: Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policies report.
The state should require annual evaluations with frequent observations of all principals. This goal remained consistent between 2017 and 2019.
Evaluation frequency: Wisconsin does not require annual evaluations for all principals. A principal's Educator Effectiveness Cycle can be one, two, or three years (determined by district administrators). Principals new to the position or new to a district must complete a one-year cycle. The final year in the cycle is called the "summary year;" other years are called "supporting years."
Observation/site visit requirements: Wisconsin requires multiple observations for principals during the "summary year:" one announced school visit with post-observation discussion and two announced or unannounced sampling visits with feedback. Additional observations may be conducted across other years.
Evaluator training: Wisconsin state policy requires evaluator training and certification. Calibration activities must also be completed every semester between recertification.
User Guide (2018): https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/ee/pdf/principalprocessmanual-draft.pdf Evaluators and Effectiveness Coaches https://dpi.wi.gov/ee/process-manuals-forms-guides/evaluator-effectiveness-coach
Require annual formal evaluations for all principals.
All principals in Wisconsin should be evaluated annually. Rather than treated as mere formalities, these principal evaluations should serve as important tools for rewarding good principals, helping average principals improve, and holding weak principals accountable for poor performance.
Require multiple observations/site visits for all principals.
To ensure that annual evaluations are based on adequate information, Wisconsin should require multiple observations/site visits for all principals.
Wisconsin recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also noted: "In a few months, we will be releasing a report that directly links implementation of our system to significant positive outcomes. Our system directly impacts teacher satisfaction and retention. And every time implementation in a school improves, so do student outcomes. The impact on student outcomes compounds across years when teachers stay in the building—which, as noted, they do. So our system is working as intended when implemented as intended. We fully intend to support it as such."
7H: Principal Evaluation and Observation
Research demonstrates that there is a clear link between school leadership and school outcomes. Principals foster school improvement by shaping school goals, policies and practices, and social and organizational structures. 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. Further, principals affect teacher retention and recruitment; effective principals are more adept at retaining effective teachers and removing ineffective teachers. The time principals spend on organizational management, instructional programming, and teacher evaluation is critically important for positive effects on teachers and students. 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.