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ERIC Number: ED530748
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Mar
Pages: 23
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 47
The Ripple Effect: A Synthesis of Research on Principal Influence to Inform Performance Evaluation Design. A Quality School Leadership Issue Brief
Clifford, Matthew; Behrstock-Sherratt, Ellen; Fetters, Jenni
American Institutes for Research
Public education is a cornerstone of democracy, a prerequisite for economic recovery, and a key lever in achieving national commitment to equal opportunity for all. Although the nearly 90,000 public school principals constitute a relatively small percentage of the public education sector, their work can have a "ripple effect" on the 3.4 million teachers and 55 million PK-12 students in the United States. Principals affect school direction through policy interpretation, resource allocation, and community relations. They manage the pragmatic day-to-day school activities, from the football field to the classroom, and balance competing priorities to provide high-quality educational services to students. Although many factors in student learning have not been fully explained, leadership is the second most influential school-level factor on student achievement, after teaching quality (Hallinger & Heck, 1998; Leithwood, Louis, Anderson, & Wahlstrom, 2004; Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2003). Individuals know, intuitively, that an effective principal can influence school performance, but what makes for an effective principal? Nationally, policymakers and practitioners are taking up this question when designing principal evaluation systems. An explicit definition of principal effectiveness drives all aspects of evaluation system design (Clifford et al., 2012). Principal effectiveness is defined as the intended or expected effects of principals' work. Ensuring that new evaluation systems are valid, fair, and useful requires them to reflect an accurate definition of principal effectiveness. Policymakers and practitioners must create systems that provide a holistic depiction of performance and are feasible to implement in diverse school contexts. To develop definitions of principal effectiveness, policymakers must reference policy, seek principals' perspectives on their work, and review available research on principal effectiveness to create new performance evaluation designs. Principals' voices, at times, have been lost in efforts to create better performance evaluation systems. In many ways, principals are best positioned to construct a realistic and nuanced definition of effective leadership that accurately reflects the context of schooling. Research also should play a role in defining principal effectiveness because empirical studies can identify how principals influence schools, teaching, and learning--and how they do not. This brief provides a synopsis of the growing body of scholarly educational research literature on principal effectiveness. After providing a short historical overview of the changing role of school principals, the brief presents two policy perspectives on principal effectiveness and, finally, introduces a research-based framework for defining principal effectiveness. (Contains 2 figures and 1 footnote.) [Funding for this paper was provided by the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Education (FIE) Earmark Grant Awards Program.]
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Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Institutes for Research
IES Cited: ED548024