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Dozens Protest New Dallas Principal Evaluations

From guest blogger Alyssa Morones

Three dozen community members showed up at the Dallas school district's headquarters on Thursday to protest the district's new principal evaluation system. The system could soon result in the termination of several principals, reports the Dallas Morning News.

The school district implemented its new evaluation system earlier this year, independent of any state mandate. The plan bases 40 percent of the evaluations on student test scores.

Earlier this year, 65 of the district's 223 principals were placed on a growth plan either because of concerns about instruction on their campuses or because they had not conducted enough "spot" observations of teachers. Those who failed to show improvement are at risk of being fired. A list of principals who will be dismissed will be presented to trustees on April 11.

After a news conference, protesters filed into the district's headquarters for a scheduled school board meeting. Several of these community members voiced their support for principals they feared would be fired and questioned the fairness of the new evaluation process, arguing that principals lacked the time and resources necessary to succeed.

Superintendent Mike Miles countered: "We are at a crossroad for our kids; we are at a crossroad in Dallas ISD," he said. "Either we will have the courage to change the fate of thousands, or we will maintain the status quo for a few."

More districts around the country are tying school leaders' evaluations to test scores, as in Dallas. Mr. Miles has made the new evaluations a priority, and has experience with such systems: In his prior position, as the superintendent of Harrison School District Two in Colorado Springs, Colorado, he instituted a system of evaluation and performance pay for both teachers and principals.

While the systems used to evaluate teachers have long been a topic of disputes, battles between principals and districts are rarer, possibly because principals are less often unionized. Deciding how to evaluate principals who are new to the profession is especially touchy.

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