Identifying and assessing current practices in principal evaluation
Albanese, Laura Jean
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One of the most significant influences on the quality and character of a school is the school principal. With principals as the driving force behind their schools, evaluation of their performance is detrimental to their success as school leaders. Until very recently, however, school administrators have eluded the same level of scrutiny and intervention that teachers have undergone for years despite their high profile status in terms of leadership and instruction. The neglected area of principal evaluation, therefore, must be revisited. With the historic passage of Article 31, Rhode Island's Student Investment Initiative and S.A.L.T.- School Accountability for Learning and Teaching, increased attention has been placed on the effectiveness and quality of Rhode Island's schools. With this legislative mandate in mind, along with the extensive educational literature placing principals at the forefront of school effectiveness, this study investigated the various evaluation systems used to assess the performance of Rhode Island principals and the attitudes principals had toward these appraisals. Interviews were conducted with principals from each of Rhode Island's 36 school districts in order to examine current evaluation practices used to assess them and to uncover individual perceptions regarding the process. The study also included the collection of evaluation instruments, follow up questionnaires, and other artifacts such as contracts and job descriptions as a means of triangulation. This study confirmed that while Rhode Island principals indicated their desire to be held accountable for their work, they did not possess the necessary authority to carry out many of the duties and obligations inherent in their role as instructional leader. Staff selection and budget appropriations are key examples of the diminished authority they possess. The results of the study coupled with recommendations will be presented to Rhode Island's State Department of Education so that it can begin exploring administrative assessment procedures that can eventually be developed and implemented at the state level. With Rhode Island's many initiatives and mandates targeting accountability, it is recommended that Rhode Island retain a uniform method of assessing principal performance since a school's success or failure is often attributed to the school's principal.
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