California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II

Hold teachers accountable

As the learning leader, the middle grades principal focuses the vision and all decisions on results. Are all students making adequate progress on the grade level content standards? Is the school a place where positive relationships prevail, and where the culture is one of mutual respect and continuous learning? To keep that vision, the leader helps teachers look at three things:

  • Action: what the teacher or teacher team did
  • Reaction: how the student(s) responded
  • Outcomes: whether the response led to student learning

Effective principals learn how to include the active participation of teachers and teacher teams in all phases of the evaluative process. Effective evaluation is based on clear goals and a mutually agreed upon plan for professional growth. For example, the principal can work with the school site leadership team and/or district staff to develop a clear evaluation and professional development plan for the year. Based on specific criteria from the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP) (PDF; Outside Source), local assessment (or achievement) data, and on learning goals derived from an analysis of the schoolwide testing scores, the leadership team can identify key areas for professional growth for all staff members.

Classroom visits, or walk-throughs, are one strategy for teacher evaluation. Perhaps even more effective, however, is the team analysis of data and resulting discussions about how to improve instructional practices based on goals for student achievement. In this way, the site principal leads all staff members in evaluating their own practice relative to specific student achievement goals. For more on this concept, see the previous section on Lead data analysis.

In Results Now, Mike Schmoker pushes learning leaders to have the courage to monitor instruction and suggests four key questions that help teachers focus on learning outcomes:

  1. What are the results of periodic or formative assessments?
  2. What evidence do grade books provide about essential standards being taught and the number of students who are succeeding in learning the standards?
  3. Is the teacher using team lesson logs or learning logs, and what are the results?
  4. Do samples of student work demonstrate scoring on rubrics that help the teacher know how to improve learning?1

The bottom line is that the learning leader ties all adult job performance to student achievement. This focus underscores the value of common assessments—the principal and team members can analyze how students in the same grade and course are progressing. When there are disparities, the team members can share strategies that helped students succeed.2

Related Links

Lead data analysis

Hire and retain qualified teachers

1 Mike Schmoker, Results Now: How We Can Achieve Unprecedented Improvements in Teaching and Learning. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2006, 130 and 143.
2 Hugh Burkett, “Eight Don’ts of School Reform.” Keynote address given at the On the Right Track 4 Symposium, San Jose, California, April 2006.

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