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School climate and teacher evaluation

New York Teacher

Teachers who think their principal is a strong leader are 2.5 times more likely to say they are satisfied with their evaluation system, according to new research by the Education Development Center under contract with the U.S. Department of Education.

Analyzing data from the federal 2011–12 Schools and Staffing Survey and a follow-up survey a year later, researchers Natalie Lacireno-Paquet and Candice Bocala of WestEd and Jessica Bailey of the Education Development Center examined perceptions of school professional climate — specifically principal leadership and teacher influence on school policy — of more than 2.8 million teachers nationwide and the level of these teachers’ support for their evaluation process.

The majority of teachers reported they had little influence on school policy, but that finding had no bearing on how they felt about the evaluation system. By contrast, the researchers found a strong association between perceptions of principal leadership and level of satisfaction with the evaluation process. The more positively teachers rated their principal’s leadership skills, the more likely they were to report satisfaction with the evaluation process.

The researchers also found that teachers whose evaluation included student test scores were less likely to be satisfied with their evaluation process.

To gauge how teachers felt about their principal’s leadership, they were asked to assess the principal’s behavior toward the staff, enforcement of student discipline, ability to communicate a vision for the school and ability to run the school well.

The researchers conclude their findings by suggesting teachers will embrace a new evaluation process only if principals have established a positive school professional climate.