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Hawaii Principals To Be Evaluated on Student Growth

In a major revision of the way it judges principals, Hawaii has announced that half of a school leader's evaluation will be based on growth in student performance.

Student growth had not been part of principals' evaluations in a formal way before this year, said Donalyn Dela Cruz, a spokeswoman for Hawaii's department of education. Dela Cruz said that the makeup of the student-growth half of the rating is based on two factors: the school's growth score on state standardized testing, and a "menu of achievement indicators" that might include ACT scores and high school graduation rates. The superintendent and principal will decide what indicators are factored into the principal's evaluation at each school.

The other half of the rating will be based on "principal leadership practice," which consists of professional growth and learning, school planning and progress, school culture, professional qualities and instructional leadership, and stakeholder support and engagement, according to a press release from the state board of education.

Dick Flanary, the deputy executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said that states with waivers from No Child Left Behind—which include Hawaii—are under pressure to revisit their principal evaluation systems and to tie principals' scores to student growth. While using student achievement as a major component of a principals' evaluation is no longer unusual, Flanary said, the NASSP is still concerned about an evaluation that derives half its weight from student growth.

Flanary said, however, that it's increasingly common for states and districts to use a mix of factors as a measure of "student growth" rather than a single test score, as in the new Hawaii system. That is in line with recommendations NASSP made about principal evaluations last fall.

Chicago also recently revamped its evaluation system for principals, and is also basing half of a principal's rating on student growth. Los Angeles put a new system into place this fall. As in Chicago, it's not clear what will happen to Hawaii principals with low ratings, the Star Advertiser reports.

Hawaii began using the new system in 81 schools this past fall. The state's 180,000 public school students are in a single school district. The state is still negotiating over teacher evaluations, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

Here are the state's implementation guidelines for the CESSA or Comprehensive Evaluation System for School Administrators .

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