Principal Leadership Is Key Factor in Teachers’ Satisfaction with Evaluation Systems

Jessica Bailey

Jessica Bailey specializes in measurement, evaluation, and assessment within the wider scope of her research and analytic support. Currently, she is providing research expertise for two REL Northeast & Islands research alliances—the Urban School Improvement Alliance and the Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance—and is the principal investigator for a study on the role of teacher characteristics in educator evaluation. As a lead content developer for an assessment literacy project for the state of Illinois, Bailey helped create a series of online modules and in-person professional development on developing high-quality assessments in traditionally non-tested grades and subjects. She also acts as an evaluator, providing evaluation services relating to educator evaluation systems. In this blog post, Jessica describes a recent data analysis about teachers' self-reported views of their schools' professional climate and their satisfaction with their formal evaluation process.

As an educator, researcher, or someone interested in the field of education, have you ever wondered whether teachers are satisfied with their evaluation process? How they perceive their school’s professional climate? Are the two are related?

To further advance the research agenda of the REL Northeast & Islands at EDC's Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance, several core planning group members wanted to understand how new teacher evaluation systems are related to school professional climate. A 2015 REL Northeast & Islands study of eight New Hampshire districts found that elements of a strong school professional climate—such as principal leadership, teacher influence, and trust—are positively related to teacher support for a new evaluation system and that teacher influence, in particular, is related to the fidelity of implementation of the new system.

To further examine the relationship between teachers’ self-reported views of their school’s professional climate and their satisfaction with their formal evaluation process, REL researchers Natalie Lacireno-PaquetCandice Bocala, and I analyzed data from the National Center for Education Statistics 2011/12 Schools and Staffing Survey and the 2012/13 Teacher Follow-up Survey. These surveys include questions on two factors that are related to school climate: principal leadership and teacher influence over school policy and decision making.

The Institute of Education Sciences published our analysis in the May 2016 report “Relationship Between School Professional Climate and Teachers’ Satisfaction with the Evaluation Process.”

We found that:

  • Teachers’ perceptions of their principals’ leadership was associated with their satisfaction with the evaluation system and that, specifically, the more positively teachers rated their principals’ leadership, the more likely they were to report satisfaction with their evaluation process.
  • The rating that teachers received on their evaluation was also associated with their satisfaction with their evaluation process. Those rated satisfactory or higher were more likely to be satisfied than those rated at levels below satisfactory.
  • There was no association between teachers’ views of their influence in the school and their satisfaction with the evaluation system.
  • Teachers whose evaluation process included student test score outcomes were 2.5 times less likelyto be satisfied with that process than teachers whose evaluations did not include student test scores.

While state and district requirements continue to change during this transformative period of accountability reform, some form of educator evaluation is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Therefore, states and districts may want to consider how to increase teacher satisfaction with the evaluation process. To support this observation, we know from our research that teachers are more satisfied with the process when they have a principal who establishes a positive school professional climate and specifically emulates strong leadership. Further research is needed, however, to determine whether this relationship is causal. We also know from our research that teachers typically prefer not to have student test scores included in their evaluations, which is another topic worthy of further study.

Date: 

Thursday, July 21, 2016 - 10:30am