Sunday, January 18, 2015

School Leader Effectiveness?

I just finished reading the REL Mid-Atlantic report published last month Measuring school leaders' effectiveness: An interim report from a multiyear pilot of Pennsylvania's Framework for Leadership. I encourage school leaders to read this report, which you can access here.

Unsurprisingly, the findings from this pilot study suggest that school leaders' scores were similar, regardless of his or her contributions to student achievement. Pennsylvania's Framework for Leadership scores principals in the following areas: Strategic/cultural leadership; Systems leadership; Leadership for learning; and Professional and community leadership. So, what we know so far, Pennsylvania's new school leader evaluation tool doesn't do much to suggest which leaders are better at getting the students in their schools to achieve higher test scores.

I don't think any practitioner is surprised by these findings. On a day to day basis most educators who persist in the field do an outstanding job, and it is difficult to correlate what these individuals do everyday to student test scores. Contrary to what the reformy types want the general public to think, principals and teachers work hard to create school conditions that optimize learning experiences for all of their students, and these efforts aren't always reflected on test score results.

Dare I say Pennsylvania's Framework for Leadership isn't "effective" at measuring school leader effectiveness? Based on this report, it's probably too early to tell, however, the authors suggest that "supervisors may have rated their school leaders too positively" and that "more specific guidance on how to determine ratings would also help supervisors determine whether they are rating school leaders appropriately" (p. ii).

Maybe, these school leaders are doing a great job and this evaluation tool isn't capturing their hard work and efforts. I'm interested in your thoughts about Pennsylvania's Framework for Leadership or your state's "new and improved" school leader evaluation tool. Please keep the conversation going below.

Teh, B., Chiang, H., Lipscomb, S., & Gill, B. (2014). Measuring school leaders' effectiveness: An interim report from a multiyear pilot of Pennsylvania's Framework for Leadership (REL 2015-058). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic. Retrieved from

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Teacher Collective Efficacy in Student Engagement

As an evidence based practitioner-scholar, my main focus is to identify predictors of school and student outcomes to better meet the needs of all learners. I do my best to stay engaged with the school leadership literature to remain current in practice and to help bridge the gap that often exists between research and practice. While I browsed the literature earlier today, I came across a study conducted by Curtis S. Chandler at Kansas State University (you can access it here) and was immediately attracted to read it.

The purpose of Chandler's (2014) work was to look at relationships between social persuasion variables of schools and teacher collective efficacy in student engagement, which is an element of collective teacher efficacy. Having done some work in a related area that you can read about here, I was interested to learn more about the relationships between these variables, as well as the predictive value of each, and what it might mean for me as a principal.

Chandler reported that the use of performance feedback, perceptions of professional development opportunities, and perceptions of school leadership were related with and predicted teacher collective efficacy in student engagement. Together, perceptions of professional development and perceptions of school leadership explained 37% of the variance in teacher collective efficacy in student engagement. As practitioners, we can take away the following from these results:

  1. The importance of providing teachers with meaningful feedback continues to surface as a variable that might improve school and student outcomes. In our current era of teacher evaluation reform, however, I'm not so sure that providing meaningful feedback is the focus. 
  2. Worthwhile professional development opportunities matter, so school leaders need to commit to investing in the continued learning of teachers and other school staff.  
  3. Teachers' perceptions of school leadership are important to improve collective efficacy in student engagement. 
I think this an important study, because with a focus on providing meaningful teacher feedback and worthwhile professional development opportunities, school leaders can strive to improve teacher collective efficacy in student engagement. As an element of collective teacher efficacy, a focus on this variable might provide school leaders with another avenue to pursue to improve school and student outcomes.

Please share your comments and feedback.

Chandler, C.S. (2014). The influence of school factors on teacher efficacy in student engagement. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University.