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Idea of the Day: Why Professional Support for Principals Is Essential

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idea light bulbBuried in the debate over teacher evaluation is a nagging concern about principals. The burden of carrying out teacher-evaluation activities falls squarely on the shoulders of these school administrators. They have to observe teachers—often multiple times per school year—and complete a rubric about the instruction; they also need to complete a post-observation conversation with each teacher. These activities, while essential to improve education, are a radical shift in principals’ responsibilities, which have historically focused on administrative tasks rather than instructional support.

Principals are feeling the change in their scope of work. In a recent national survey, 69 percent of principals said their responsibilities had changed in the past five years, and 75 percent said their job had become too complex.

We reviewed studies from a number of states that collected data on the pilot implementation of new teacher-evaluation systems to see how principals responded to their increased responsibilities. Specifically, we reviewed implementation studies from Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Chicago, as well as a report that surveyed districts in Maryland, New York, and North Carolina. These districts received federal grants through the Race to the Top initiative. Our review confirmed that principals are struggling with their new responsibilities.

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To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education, poverty)
202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, Legal Progress, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

 

This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

For more from the same column, click here