Rating principals

Principals perform well in pilot test of evaluation system

PHOTO: Tajuana Cheshier/ Chalkbeat TN
Kenneth Woods and his daughters Breanna Rosser (r) and Taylor Woods (r) reviewed 12 powerful words with sixth grade language arts teacher Patricia Hervey.

Some 94 percent of participating Colorado principals and assistant principals were ranked as proficient or higher in a pilot test of the state’s evaluation system, according to a new report from the Department of Education.

But the results may not be indicative of how school leaders will perform when the full evaluation system, which will eventually incorporate measures of student growth on standardized tests, rolls out. In addition, the report included ratings for only 410 principals and assistant principals in 21 pilot districts. The state has more than 2,800 principals and assistant principals, as calculated on a full-time equivalent basis.

The overall ratings for pilot principals found 18 percent exemplary, 30 percent accomplished, 46 percent proficient and 5 percent partially proficient. No principals were rated as skills being “not evident,” the lowest category.

Although the percentage differences were relatively small, the principals received the highest ratings in managerial leadership and somewhat lower ratings on instructional leadership and external leadership (family and community involvement).

“Historically that’s we’ve asked them to do, [so]… it’s not surprising” principals rated highest in management, said Katy Anthes, executive director of educator effectiveness for CDE. Anthes recently briefed the State Council for Educator Effectiveness on the report.

Those results are similar to those for teachers evaluated under the 2012-13 pilot (see story).

Principals were the initial guinea pigs for the evaluation system. A smaller group of principals and assistants was evaluated during 2011-12, and the pilot continued with a larger group during 2012-13. This school year all principals and teachers are being evaluated under systems that comply with Senate Bill 10-191, the law that created the new system.

“A lot of people moved up a little bit” from the first year to the second, data analyst Britt Wilkinfeld told the council. Of the 196 principals who were evaluated both years, 36 percent improved their performance, she said.

“It’s skewed toward the positive, which isn’t surprising, she said, because “it’s still very early in the implementation” of the evaluation system.

“All findings should be considered preliminary,” the report cautions, because “educators “are still learning and becoming familiar with the system, there continues to be variability in the way districts are training and implementing the system and CDE is continuing to learn from and make improvements to the system.”

The report concluded that preliminary analyses of the pilot data “indicate that the professional practice rubric [score sheet] captures multiple aspects of school leadership and differences in principal practice.” Based on the preliminary findings, “CDE continues to find evidence for reliability and validity in the” principal evaluation system.

Principal standards
  • Strategic leadership
  • Instructional leadership
  • Equity leadership
  • HR leadership
  • Managerial leadership
  • External leadership

More info on standards & elements

The pilot principal evaluations were based on professional practices and lacked half of the evaluation data – measures of student growth. When the evaluations system is fully rolled out, both teacher and principal evaluations will be based half on professional practice and half on student growth. Both sets of data will be combined into ratings of highly effective, effective, partially effective or ineffective. Principals already can be fired at the will of their employers, regardless of evaluations ratings. But non-probationary teachers will lose that status if they have two consecutive years of ineffective or partially effective ratings.

Each of the six principal quality standards includes three or more detailed “elements” on which principals are evaluated. For instance, the managerial leadership standard contains six elements, including one for budget management.

The CDE study found that pilot principals were rated highest on such elements as commitment to the whole child, ensuring supportive environments, maximizing instructional time, fostering professional learning communities and conflict management.

Lowest rated elements were implementing high-quality instruction, setting high student expectations, creating school plans, setting instructional practices, family and community outreach and budgeting.

Other study findings include:

  • Elementary principals were rated somewhat higher.
  • More experienced principals received better ratings.
  • Principals scored better than assistant principals.
  • Female principals scored better than males, but there were no statistically significant difference based on ethnicity.
  • Principal ratings were not correlated with student demographics but were correlated with the number of points earned on a school’s performance rating.
  • Ratings were correlated to schools’ overall student growth data, but the correlation was not statistically significant for TCAP scores.
  • Principal ratings were correlated with positive responses on teacher school-climate surveys.

The department surveyed pilot principals about the evaluations both before the program started and after each school year. The surveys showed “a steady increase of positive responses,” the report said.


Teachers in Millington and Knoxville just won the Oscar awards of education

PHOTO: Milken Family Foundation
Millington English teacher Katherine Watkins reacts after learning that she is the recipient of a 2017 Milken Educator Award.

Two Tennessee teachers were surprised during school assemblies Thursday with a prestigious national teaching award, $25,000 checks, and a visit from the state’s education chief.

Katherine Watkins teaches high school English in Millington Municipal Schools in Shelby County. She serves as the English department chair and professional learning community coordinator at Millington Central High School. She is also a trained jazz pianist, published poet, and STEM teacher by summer.

PHOTO: Milken Family Foundation
Paula Franklin learns she is among the recipients.

Paula Franklin teaches Advanced Placement government at West High School in Knoxville. Since she took on the course, its enrollment has doubled, and 82 percent of her students pass with an average score that exceeds the national average.

The teachers are two of 45 educators being honored nationally with this year’s Milken Educator Awards from the Milken Family Foundation. The award includes a no-strings-attached check for $25,000.

“It is an honor to celebrate two exceptional Tennessee educators today on each end of the state,” said Education Commissioner Candice McQueen, who attended each assembly. “Paula Franklin and Katherine Watkins should be proud of the work they have done to build positive relationships with students and prepare them with the knowledge and skills to be successful in college and the workforce.”

Foundation chairman Lowell Milken was present to present the awards, which have been given to thousands of teachers since 1987.

PHOTO: Milken Family Foundation
Students gather around Millington teacher Katherine Watkins as she receives a check as part of her Milken Educator Award.

The Milken awards process starts with recommendations from sources that the foundation won’t identify. Names are then reviewed by committees appointed by state departments of education, and their recommendations are vetted by the foundation, which picks the winners.

Last year, Chattanooga elementary school teacher Katie Baker was Tennessee’s sole winner.

In all, 66 Tennessee educators have been recognized by the Milken Foundation and received a total of $1.6 million since the program began in the state in 1992.

You can learn more about the Milken Educator Awards here.

Colorado Vote 2018

Polis campaign releases education plan, including new promise about teacher raises

Congressman Jared Polis meets with teachers, parents and students at the Academy of Urban Learning in Denver after announcing his gubernatorial campaign. (Photo by Nic Garcia/Chalkbeat)

Congressman Jared Polis, one of several Democrats running for governor, released an education plan for the state Wednesday that includes new details on tackling teacher shortages and better preparing high school students for work.

The Boulder Democrat wants to help school districts build affordable housing for teachers, increase teacher pay and make sure that “100 percent of Colorado’s school districts are able to offer dual and concurrent enrollment programs through an associate’s degree or professional certification, and work to boost enrollment in them.”

The education plan includes the congressman’s initial campaign promise to deliver free and universal preschool and kindergarten.

“Part of my frustration is that politicians have been talking about preschool and kindergarten for decades,” Polis said in an interview with Chalkbeat. “It’s time to stop talking … and actually do it.”

Big questions remain, however, about how Colorado would pay for Polis’s plans.

Free universal preschool and kindergarten would cost hundreds of millions of tax dollars the state does not have. Polis has acknowledged that voters will need to approve a tax increase to secure the funding necessary — and voters rejected Colorado’s last big statewide ask to fund education initiatives.

His additional promises, especially providing schools with more money to pay teachers, only adds to the price tag for his education plan. The campaign did not release any projections of how much his teacher pay raise proposal would cost.

“If a teacher can’t afford to live in the community they work in, that is not going to be an attractive profession,” he said. “We need to do a better job in Colorado making sure teachers are rewarded for their hard work.”

Other components to Polis’s plan includes providing student loan relief for teachers who commit to serving in high-need and rural areas, increasing teacher training and building and renovating more.

Polis is the latest Democrat to roll out an education platform.

Former state Sen. Michael Johnston released more details earlier this week about his campaign promise for tuition-free community college and job training.

Johnston’s campaign estimates that the initiative would cost about $47 million annually. The campaign provided specifics on how the state would pay for it: by combining existing federal grants and state scholarships, revenue from online sales tax, and state workforce development funding. Savings from volunteer hours put in by tuition recipients also are factored in.

Former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy released her education plan last month.

Like Polis, Kennedy is calling for teacher raises. She wants the state’s average salary to be closer to the national average. The former state treasurer also wants to expand preschool and job training for high school students. A key piece of Kennedy’s proposal to pay for her initiatives: reforming the state’s tax laws to generate more revenue.

Other Democrats running to replace Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited, include Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne and businessman Noel Ginsburg.

The Republican field to replace Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is also crowded. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced earlier this month that she’s running. Other leading Republican candidates include former Congressman Tom Tancredo, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, and businessmen Doug Robinson and Victor Mitchell. George Brauchler, district attorney for the 18th Judicial District, dropped out of the race to instead run for attorney general.