Half the principals in the District’s traditional public schools were deemed “developing” — one rung above “ineffective” — on newly revised evaluations that for the first time sorted administrators by their performance.
Fourteen of the city’s 120 principals, more than 11 percent, were rated “highly effective” and were eligible for bonuses of up to $30,000. About one-third were rated “effective,” and the 8 percent who lost their jobs this past spring were rated “ineffective.”
Based on a combination of supervisor observation, test scores and other measurements of student progress, the ratings are the principals’ version of the evaluation system that has been used to judge teachers since 2009. The ratings were delivered to administrators this month for their work during the 2012-13 school year, and they drew immediate protest from principals, some of whom called them unfair and too tightly hitched to student test results.
School system officials said the ratings are an important tool for recognizing and rewarding the best leaders and for targeting areas for improvement. It should not be surprising, officials said, that so many administrators scored below effective in a city where only about half of the students are proficient on math and reading standardized tests.
“Our driving force in all our work is student achievement,” school system spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said. “This evaluation system allowed us to see a clear picture of our school leader workforce.”
The D.C. school system made national headlines in 2009 when then-Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee introduced IMPACT, among the country’s first teacher-evaluation systems to link job security and pay to student test scores.
The move stirred criticism, spurred similar initiatives in other jurisdictions and drew the public’s attention to how teachers are judged. But the evaluation of the nation’s principals, who play a pivotal role in school success, has received far less attention.
That’s now beginning to change, experts say, partly because the Race to the Top competition — the Obama administration’s multibillion-dollar education initiative — gave states an incentive to start basing teacher and principal evaluations on test scores and other measures of student performance.