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Chicago Principal Evaluations Based Half on Student Growth

Starting this year, student gains will count for half of Chicago's principals' evaluations, the school district announced yesterday.

Chicago's principals' evaluations will be based half on "student growth measures"—including graduation rates, attendance, and, as the release puts it, "some assessments"—and half on principal practice.

Illinois requires student growth to comprise at least 25 percent of a principal's evaluation starting this school year and at least 30 percent in 2014 and beyond.

"This new system is squarely aligned with evaluations for our teachers, which is raising the bar in supporting school leaders in the work they do for our kids every day while holding them accountable for results," said Chicago schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in a press release. Teacher evaluation was one point of contention in the teachers' strike in Chicago earlier this school year.

Catalyst Chicago reported mixed responses to the new evaluation systems. Some principals say the system is late to be unveiled and say that 50 percent seems a high figure; others say they are pleased that the student growth component is not dependent on a single assessment. Catalyst also has some background on Chicago's effort to improve its principal pool.

National leaders expressed some concern. "Fifty percent is in my mind not supported by any research, any place," said Richard A. Flanary, a deputy executive director at the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Flanary cited a recent report put out by the NASSP and the National Association of Elementary School principals that recommended that student scores not dominate principals' evaluation. He said that while student achievement should be principals' priority, research shows that very little of students' performance can be actively accounted to the principal. The NAESP's executive director Gail Connelly co-wrote an Education Week commentary about principal evaluation last fall.

The Chicago Tribune reports that it is unclear what will happen to principals if students' scores don't improve.

Los Angeles' principals got a new evaluation system this year. New York City just missed a deadline to come up with a teacher evaluation plan, as Steve Sawchuk reported yesterday. Here's an update from Patricia Willens at WNYC's Schoolbook. And, we profiled a Chicago principal-in-training for an article earlier this winter.

Here are the criteria laid out by the district:
Student growth measures include:


  • In elementary schools, measurement of student growth in reading and math at the beginning and end of the year from NWEA assessments;

  • Ability to succeed in high school based on the grade 8 EXPLORE exam;

  • High school growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the year as measured by EPAS (ACT's Educational Planning and Assessment System) growth percentile;

  • Growth among high-need student population groups, such as ELL and special education students, and closing achievement gaps;

  • On-track measures based on attendance, grades and misconducts; and

  • An index created by the district that balances graduation rates, dropout rates and attendance.



Principal practice criteria include:

  • Championing teacher and staff excellence through continuous improvement;

  • Building a culture focused on college and career readiness;

  • Empowering and motivating families and the community to become engaged in their school;

  • Creating powerful systems of professional learning;

  • Self-disciplined thinking; and

  • Establishing and leading a school toward its vision.

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