Jan 13

New Principal Evaluation Model Under Scrutiny

During the public comment period at the first State Board of Education meeting of 2012, the chairperson of the Virginia Education Coalition, of which VASSP is a founding member, told the Board of Education that there was widespread concern among educators that funding in the Governor’s proposed budget to implement the new teacher and principal evaluation system was woefully inadequate. Kitty Boitnott, chair of the VEC and president of the VEA, quoted Dr. Randy Barrack, executive director of VASSP, saying that the $415T in the Governor’s 2010-12 budget equated to no more than $2 per educator per year for professional development.

Professors of educational leadership agreed and added that implementing a sweeping change to the evaluation system during a financial crisis was certainly bad timing.

Virginia Professors of Educational Leadership representatives also decried the fact that the new evaluation program was being implemented before the findings of a pilot program established to ascertain the efficacy of the evaluation model were made available. Speaking specifically to the principal evaluation model, VPEL stated that current data does not support a model that would require that 40% of a principal’s evaluation be based on student academic progress, adding also that growth model data was not always valid. The three speakers representing VPEL went as far as to suggest that the new program could have a negative impact on the quality of leadership in schools.

VPEL’s major concern centered on the unintended consequences of the proposed evaluation model for principals, and representatives spoke particularly to the almost certain negative results on hard-to-staff schools that need our most competent leaders. The obvious concern is that these schools will become “graveyards” for those administrators who fail to meet the new evaluation criteria. Without proper professional development training and with 40% of the evaluation based on criteria unsupported by current data, the laudable intent of a revised evaluation model could actually have more negative than positive impact. Dr. Megan Tschannen-Moran, VPEL member and William and Mary professor, advised the Board members to, “first, do no harm.”

The principal evaluation model passed “first review” after a number of questions from Board members based on testimony received during the public comment period. Final review will be discussed and determined at the Board’s February 23rd meeting.