A Tripartite Framework for Leadership Evaluation
The Tripartite Framework for Leadership Evaluation provides a comprehensive examination of the leadership evaluation landscape and makes key recommendations about how the field of leadership evaluation should proceed. The chief concern addressed by this working paper is the use of student outcome data as a measurement of leadership effectiveness. Since leaders do not have direct influence over student achievement and mediate instructional influence with students through teachers, we find that the use of student test scores as a measurement of leadership effectiveness is neither fair nor useful. The collective actions of teachers and the leader lead to improved student achievement, but the leader should concentrate his or her work on teacher working conditions and teacher motivation as a part of that collective responsibility (Leithwood, 2012).
A second concern in our work with urban leaders is the absence or surface treatment of race and equity in nearly all evaluation instruments or processes. We believe that to countermand the historical predictability of achievement outcomes for our most vulnerable students, attention should be directed specifically to the roles that urban school leaders play in fostering consistent attention to the structural issues of race and poverty. We contend that often the attention to race and equity do not get sufficient credit in leadership evaluation for the ways that school leaders build trust and keep equity concerns at the forefront of their work.
Finally, we call for an overhaul of the conventional cycle of inquiry, which is based largely on needs analysis and leader deficits, and incomplete use of evidence to support recurring short cycles within the larger yearly cycle of inquiry.
In this working paper, we recommend a tripartite framework for leadership evaluation that includes:
- A valid and reliable 360° perceptual survey instrument that depends on feedback from multiple respondents who know the principal’s work firsthand and report their perceptions objectively.
- A leadership accountability report card (LARC) that identifies quantitative metrics as leading indicators for improved student outcomes over which the principal has substantial influence or control. These include such metrics as attendance, teacher assignments, and discipline data.
- Evidence-based practice using a rubric that undergoes calibration and agreement among its users on the levels of quality used to determine the rubric rating and a revised cycle of inquiry that fosters asset observations and short-term outcomes and the use of evidence to inform next steps.
In sum, we present key findings from our analysis, research, and practice work with coordinating recommendations. The metrics we recommend in the leadership accountability report card require validation, and the evidence-based and asset-based cycle of inquiry requires further study. Thus, our intent is not to suggest we have a complete answer to leadership evaluation. Rather, we intend to spark a conversation about leadership evaluation that will enrich the field and provide fair and multiple metrics for effectively assessing leaders – and supporting them to improve. Based on reading of the research about leadership and analysis of current methods of assessment, we contend that basing leadership on the metrics we suggest will be more useful in understanding exactly what it takes for leadership practice to impact teachers and, in turn, student achievement.