Local: Education

Teachers turn tables, rate principals in survey

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Local,DC,Education,Lisa Gartner

Since 2009, teachers in DC Public Schools have been rated on a scale running from "ineffective" to "highly effective" on evaluations that determine their pay grade and whether they have a job each year.

So, they thought, why not give their principals the same treatment?

On a survey of nearly 500 teachers obtained by The Washington Examiner, 60 percent gave their principals an "ineffective" or "minimally effective" rating for creating a team atmosphere.

Rate My Principal
Nearly 500 DC Public Schools teachers labeled their principals in the manner that teachers themselves are labeled.
Ineffective Minimally Effective Effective Highly Effective
Communication skills 24.9% 26.8% 27.4% 20.8%
Professionalism 22.7% 23.3% 30.7% 23.3%
Emotional maturity 25.3% 22.6% 28.0% 24.1%
Creating a team atmosphere 37.0% 23.4% 17.0% 22.6%
Leading a team 31.7% 24.2% 20.6% 23.5%
Delegating tasks 20.6% 23.5% 29.6% 26.3%
Developing and implementing effective strategies 25.3% 29.4% 25.1% 20.2%
Following through on tasks, projects and procedures 26.2% 25.4% 28.0% 20.4%
Source: Washington Teachers' Union survey

Although two-thirds of DCPS teachers were rated "effective" on their own evaluations last spring, teachers were more likely to grade their principals as less than effective. For example, when it came to developing and implementing effective strategies, 25 percent of teachers said their principals were ineffective; 29 percent, minimally effective; 25 percent, effective; and 20 percent, highly effective.

"The principals or the administrators clearly have a tool to talk about teachers, and teachers don't have a voice at the school level to talk about principals," said Nathan Saunders, president of the Washington Teachers' Union.

On the decision to use the same evaluation labels that teachers receive, Saunders said, "We wanted to make sure we were using a language the people participating in the survey could understand."

Teachers and principals are both evaluated using IMPACT, a tool developed by Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson when she was the deputy to then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Students' test scores play a heavy-handed role for both principals and teachers who teach subjects tested by the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System, and for teachers, observations by principals and independent "master educators" also factor significantly.

But teachers are fired for an "ineffective" or two consecutive "minimally effective" ratings, while principals' evaluations don't trigger automatic action. Instead, their job security is handled more like in the private sector, where their boss, Henderson, makes the call.

Speaking at a Teach For America event in July, Henderson said DCPS was beginning to focus more on the performance of principals, and jokingly chided principals' inability to take criticism.

Melissa Salmanowitz, a spokeswoman for Henderson, said in an email that DCPS is "aware and appreciative" of the survey.

"It helps us continue to think about how our evaluation and support processes best reflect our expectations for our school leaders," Salmanowitz said.

lgartner@washingtonexaminer.com

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