District principal evaluation policies and superintendent sensemaking

Resource Type
Dataset : text
  • Donaldson, Morgaen L. (University of Connecticut)
  • Mavrogordato, Madeline (Michigan State University)
  • Youngs, Peter (University of Virginia)
  • Dougherty, Shaun (Vanderbilt University)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • United States Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences
    • Award Number: R305A160100
Free Keywords
principal evaluation; school superintendents; school districts
  • Abstract

    Almost every state in the U.S. has revamped their principal evaluation policies since 2009, yet we know little about how they are implemented. Based on interviews and document analysis in 21 small and medium-sized school districts, we found that superintendents’ sensemaking shaped their implementation of policy. Drawing on their beliefs about principals and evaluation and their understanding of their district context, superintendents in lower-performing districts reported that they complied with the processes specified in state principal evaluation policies but strayed from state guidelines regarding maintaining a focus on instructional leadership during evaluation. In contrast, superintendents of higher-performing districts reported that they implemented evaluation processes loosely but adhered to their state’s policy emphasis on instructional leadership. Our findings raise questions about whether the implementation of principal evaluation policies disadvantages principals in lower-performing districts. We thus caution against attaching high-stakes consequences such as incentive pay or sanctions to these policies.
  • Weighting

  • Methods

    Response Rates: n/a
  • Methods

    Presence of Common Scales: n/a
Temporal Coverage
  • 2016-09-01 / 2018-12-31
    Time Period: Thu Sep 01 00:00:00 EDT 2016--Mon Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 2018
  • 2016-01-01 / 2019-12-31
    Collection Date(s): Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2016--Tue Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 2019
Geographic Coverage
  • Connecticut, Michigan
Collection Mode
  • face-to-face interview; other; telephone interview;

    Data include qualitative interviews of superintendents and rubrics used to evaluate the leadership practices of principals in the sample of districts. Interview data were collected through in-person interviews of 60-90 minutes in most cases. Rubrics were coded by trained raters. See paper for more detail.

This study is freely available to the general public via web download.
  • Has version
    DOI: 10.3886/E128221V1

Update Metadata: 2020-12-04 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2020-12-04