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How will principals be evaluated?

In the midst of all the attention being paid to the new state agreement on teacher evaluations, something else is getting entirely overshadowed: principal evaluations.

Just as Race to the Top requires schools to tie teacher evaluations to student performance, it also requires schools to tie principal evaluations to student performance.

(Here's a link to the full text of the bill, which covers both teacher evaluations and principal evaluations:

In Buffalo, at least, the changes to principal evaluations are probably more drastic than the changes to teacher evaluations.

The city's existing teacher evaluations, which are based entirely on classroom observations, result in an overall finding that the teacher is either "adequate" or "inadequate" for the position.

Principals are rated on a scale of 1 to 4 on more than 20 items in three categories: leadership, management, and school/community/business relations. But the principal evaluations result in no overall finding at all -- something that chief academic officer Fran Wilson concedes renders them of limited use.

At any rate, principal evaluations will be getting overhauled in schools across the state.

In today's paper, we offer an overview Q&A on the teacher evaluations. Here is an overview of the principal evaluations, to accompany that.

Will principals be evaluated on a 100-point system, too?

Yes. The principal evaluation system parallels the teacher evaluation system in that 60 of the 100 points are based on site visits, and the other 40 points are tied to measurable student outcomes.

What are the overall ratings for principals?

They are the same as the ratings for teachers. Each principal will receive a numeric score on a 100-point scale, along with a corresponding categorical rating: highly effective, for scores of 91 to 100; effective, 75 to 90; developing, 65 to 74; and ineffective, below 65.

What is the breakdown of the 100 points?

Similar to the teacher evaluations, 60 points will be based on site visits.

The other 40 points will be dependent upon student performance. For principals in schools where there is no state-approved principal value-added model, 20 points would be based on state measures, and 20 points would be based on local measures. (This would apply to schools serving students in primary grades -- students in third grade or younger -- for example.) 

For principals in most schools, 25 points will be based on state-determined measures, and 15 points on locally determined measures.

How will those 60 points be determined for each principal?

The majority of those 60 points "shall be based on a broad assessment of the principal's leadership and management actions." That will be based on a rubric by the principal's supervisor, a trained administrator or an independent evaluator.

This must include more than one site visit, including at least one that is unannounced.

The remainder of the 60 points is to be based on at least two of the following: "feedback from teachers, students, and/or families using state-approved instruments; school visits by other trained evaluators; and/or review of school documents, records, and/or state accountability processes."

What are the options for the locally-determined measure of student achievement or growth?

Districts may choose from several options, including: student achievement on fourth- to eighth-grade ELA and math, such as the percentage of students demonstrating proficiency; student growth or achievement on those state tests for students with disabilities or English language learners; student performance on locally selected measures approved for use in teacher evaluations.

Also, for principals in high schools: four-, five- and/or six-year graduation rates; percentage of students getting a Regents diploma with advanced designation and/or honors; percentage of a cohort of a students getting a specified scored on approved alternative exams, such as AP, IB or SAT II; and student progress toward graduation using "strong predictive indicators" such as credits accumulated by students in ninth or tenth grade.

What about the state measures of student growth?

The state has not yet released the means by which it will measure student growth for principals.

When must principals be provided with the results of their evalutions?

Principals must be given the results of their evaluation no later than Sept. 1 of the next school year. Teachers must also receive their evaluation results by that date.

When must schools have the new principal evaluations in place?

The state agreement calls for schools to have principal evaluations in place in 2012-13, the same as the teacher evaluations.

What are the consequences for schools that do not comply?

Districts that do not have principal and teacher evaluations -- that comply with the state agreement -- in place by mid-January 2013 risk losing their 2012-13 increase in state aid.

- Mary Pasciak

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |