Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), several states have backed away from including student performance in principal evaluations and from conducting those evaluations every year, according to a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).
Calling it a "hasty retreat," the NCTQ report also details how 10 states and the District of Columbia have removed requirements that teacher evaluations include student testing results. Another four states allow more flexibility for districts to decide which assessment results to factor into evaluations instead of requiring they include state standardized test results.
The report notes since 2015, two states — Alabama and Texas — have started including student testing data in evaluations, bringing the total number of states still requiring such evidence to 34, down from 43 before ESSA.
Following No Child Left Behind’s strict requirements for education accountability systems, ESSA returned much of the control to the states. In addition to legal challenges over linking test scores to teacher evaluation results, education researchers also raised questions about the validity of such systems, according to a report last year from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado Boulder.
For principals specifically, the NCTQ report shows nine states and the District of Columbia (DC) dropped the requirement that evaluations include “an objective measure of student growth,” while Texas added such a requirement. Six states and DC have stopped requiring annual evaluations of principals, while Massachusetts moved to an annual model.
Site visit or observation requirements were more mixed, with five states removing the requirement that evaluations include those results and six states adding such a rule. Five states and D.C. also dropped the requirement that principal evaluations include teacher or community surveys, while five added that component. Finally, principals found to be ineffective will no longer be automatically identified for targeted support or put on an improvement plan in four states, while such a requirement has been added in one state, Nebraska, the report says.
The NEPC report notes when states allow various types of teacher evaluation systems, there are concerns about administrators and other evaluators being adequately trained. The same likely applies to supervisors evaluating principals and other administrators.
Removing such state-level regulations, however, doesn’t mean districts are backing off on oversight of principals. Several have worked with outside experts to revamp the way district-level administrators work with the principals under their supervision, with a more concentrated focus on instruction.