Exploring the impact of principal evaluation

September 26, 2016

Principal and students in school hallwayIn most states, the policies intended to hold educators accountable for their performance now include a critical person in schools: the principal.

But so far, we know very little about how those policies influence how school leaders work—and ultimately how students learn.

Michigan State University faculty member Madeline Mavrogordato is part of a national research team setting out to study those questions with a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

Mavrogordato, associate professor of K-12 Educational Administration in the College of Education, is co-principal investigator along with Morgaen Donaldson and Shaun Dougherty of University of Connecticut and Peter Youngs of the University of Virginia. The three-year project is the only education leadership grant funded in the latest round of IES grants.

“We know that school leaders shape how well schools function, teachers teach and students learn, but we know remarkably little about what districts can do to improve principal quality,” said Mavrogordato. “This research will help us understand the extent to which different principal evaluation policies encourage principals to demonstrate practices that improve student outcomes.”

The researchers will study 25 diverse school districts in Connecticut, Michigan and North Carolina. They are examining associations between school district policies related to principal evaluation, principals’ enactment of learning-centered leadership practices and student achievement in reading and mathematics.

Another MSU College of Education faculty member, Gary Troia, also received a 2016 IES grant to study teaching practices that support student growth in writing.