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Supervision and Evaluation: The Role of a School Principal

As school districts across the U.S. remain laser-focused on improving student outcomes, many administrators are examining how districts and state education systems evaluate a key indicator of student success: teacher performance. Principals are crucial in setting the tone and adhere to policies for teacher evaluations and overall professional development.

Through the Emporia State University (ESU) online Master of Science (M.S.) in Educational Administration program, rising educational leaders learn how to implement effective supervision and evaluation procedures for teachers of all backgrounds and skill levels.

The Value of Teacher Supervision and Evaluation

The undeniable impact of teacher improvement on student achievement has led nearly every state in the U.S. to adopt new standards for teacher evaluations, with some including test scores as a significant factor in annual evaluations. Other states emphasize adherence to curriculum requirements and learning strategies, among other factors scored on a standardized rubric.

According to the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), an ideal teacher evaluation and support system includes feedback, reflective practice, and multiple measures of student learning to demonstrate how the teacher contributes to student achievement.

The evaluation process is most helpful for teachers when it includes customized professional development opportunities rather than teachers’ open-ended choices. When done effectively, assessing teacher performance can benefit individual teachers and an entire campus.

Teacher evaluations can provide educators with specific feedback on areas of strength and opportunities to improve their instructional skills through professional development sessions. These regular check-ins — whether conducted twice a year or in more frequent, short classroom visits — also provide data that schools can use to identify areas of need and allocate resources.

A Principal’s Role in Teacher Supervision and Evaluation

A principal’s currency is their time. With a constant stream of issues coming to their desk, principals must decide where and how to direct their attention. One of their top priorities must be ensuring that teachers receive high-quality instructional coaching and a clear sense of their job performance.

Methods of achieving that goal look different for every principal, but the National Council on Teacher Quality offers some best practices. To ensure that teachers receive actionable feedback, principals should prioritize pairing educators with evaluators who have more experience in the school and classroom environment than the teacher.

Principals also report feeling less comfortable offering advice when they can’t give subject matter expertise. If that’s the case, administrators can turn to peer observers who can share lessons learned from being in the same classrooms as the person they are evaluating. Research shows teachers respond well to peer feedback from a high-performing and more seasoned educator.

Educational leadership coach Kim Marshall provides recommendations to principals who want to shake up the process in environments where educators view the evaluation process as a chore. She points to school districts where principals and other evaluators make frequent and unannounced short visits followed by coaching conversations about areas of potential improvement.

This method allows principals to spend more time with students and develop trusting relationships with teachers who can make gradual improvements measured over time rather than being evaluated on one or two school days a year. While this approach might not work in all educational environments, Marshall has seen the process succeed as school leaders become more energized from engaging with educators and their students.

Master Evaluation and Professional Growth Strategies With Emporia State

Students in ESU’s online M.S. in Educational Administration program study criteria for effective instruction, supervision, and teacher evaluation in the Supervision and Evaluation course, Field Experiences in Educational Administration: Building Level course, and Practicum in Educational Administration: Building Level course. By exploring effective school leadership strategies, graduates obtain the tools to excel as principals facilitating change throughout their campuses.

Learn more about Emporia State University’s online Master of Science in Educational Administration program.

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