Federal Funding and Leadership Evaluation

By Chevy Martin, Executive Editor, RedRock Reports

Federal funding programs are now beginning to require the evaluation of school leaders as well as teachers to examine the overall success of schools. The newest Race to the Top competition for Districts is requiring that winners provide for the annual evaluation of both your Principals and Superintendent. Proposed legislation for the 2013 budget is set to revise the Teacher Quality funding to include leadership evaluation as well. We can expect to see leadership evaluation continue to become part of any new school improvement legislation.
These evaluations are important. The nation’s 95,000 Principals have a great influence on our 3 million teachers and 55 million students. Yet they and the Superintendents in charge of local school districts have not been uniformly evaluated in the past.
Principals have a direct influence on the quality of instruction and school climate through their evaluation of instruction and establishment of school-based policy. Principals have influence over curriculum and teaching strategies. And they are responsible for teacher evaluation which touches every student’s school experience. Principal performance is a crucial part of a school’s success. Adding a Principal evaluation to the overall examination of your schools’ programs will be an important element in providing a fair and complete evaluation of a student’s educational opportunities.
The evaluation of Superintendents is new and not required in other than the Race to the Top-District regulations. Superintendents set overall policy and strategy for the district as a whole, affecting every school. They are instrumental in selecting programs and instructional strategies. Superintendents have authority over Principals and are responsible for their evaluations. The Superintendent is the instructional leader for the District and as such is a key in both a positive school environment and in raising student achievement.
What are the consequences to districts of this new focus? The major feature is that there is real money being attached to these evaluations. The Race to the Top-District program will grant between 20 and 25 awards of between $5 million and $40 million to winners over a 4 year grant period. The original grant guidelines included the annual evaluations of Principals, Superintendents, and School Boards. School Boards were dropped before the final regulations were published based on public comments received during the comment period. These applications are due by October 30th and awards are expected to be made in December.
In addition to Race to the Top, the current FY12 budget includes Effective Teacher and Leader State Grants that will distribute $2.5 billion. The Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund has $500 million to distribute. For the FY13 budget, the Title II Teacher Quality grants are proposed to be changed to three separate programs, all of which would include Principal evaluation. These include Effective teachers and leaders for a well-rounded education (proposed legislation) $90 million; Effective teachers and leaders: Literacy (proposed legislation) $187 million; and Effective teachers and leaders: STEM (proposed legislation) $150 million. There is real money tied to leader evaluation in these programs. Your district must be prepared to add leader evaluation to your systematic review of school progress. Stay tuned for more on this topic.