The Kentucky Department of Education, along with several partners and more than 50 school districts, is in the third year of a four-year plan to develop the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES). Schools statewide will pilot the new system in the 2013-14 school year, with full implementation scheduled for 2014-15. This is the sixth in a series of stories that will examine different aspects of the proposed system.
By Matthew Tungate
Principals will succeed in the new Principal Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PPGES) only if they help teachers help students succeed, according to Kevin Stull, PPGES strategy lead for at the Kentucky Department of Education.
Stull, who spent 13 years as principal at Garrard County High School before leading the statewide initiative, said the PPGES supports the Teacher Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (TPGES) in raising student achievement.
“(As principal), I need that teacher to be successful. I’m there to help them be effective, as opposed to being evaluative. If there is an area in which think they need to grow, my responsibility is to help them grow, not to be critical of that,” he said.
The PPGES is being field tested this year by 28 principals in 15 districts. Next year, each district will have at least one principal participate in a statewide pilot of the PPGES.
Stull said the principal and teacher PGES are similar in that they are both built on a framework of standards with specific indicators that tell teachers where they land on a spectrum from ineffective to exemplary. Both include input from others they supervise, self-reflection, professional growth plans and student-growth goals.
Because both are designed to help principals and teachers continuously improve, they share another important trait, he said.
“Both of them are circular in the process,” Stull said. “You’re never going to reach a place in either one where you say, ‘I’m done.”
While they have similarities, they also have differences, he said. Teachers and principals use different standards, for one. Principals have to be certified to observe teachers, but district administrators face no such certification to observe principals. While teachers are observed only a few times each year, principal observation is ongoing.
One of the biggest differences is that teachers can be ineffective, developing, accomplished or exemplary for each of the standards and indicators that are part of the TPGES. Principals, however, will receive ratings from the Vanderbilt Assessment of Leadership in Education (VAL-ED) or TELL Kentucky Survey and student growth, Stull said. The details of how principals will receive their ratings likely won’t be completed until after the pilot, he said.
Rachelle Schjoll, principal at Paris Elementary School (Paris Independent), and Jami Dailey, principal at Paris Middle and High schools (Paris Independent), said they prefer the PPGES to how they have been evaluated in previous years.
Schjoll said the new system involves the principal more by allowing her to have more input. Dailey said the new system is more like a formative assessment where she works all year with her supervisor instead of having a year-end review – when it’s too late to make changes for that year.
“This is a year-long improvement process,” Dailey said.
Clay Goode, chief academic officer for the Paris Independent school district, said the standards in the PPGES are more relevant than previous evaluation systems. Paris Superintendent Gary Wiseman said the new system shouldn’t even be called an evaluation, because it is about continuous professional growth of a principal, not whether he or she can do the job.
Schjoll and Dailey said having student academic growth as one of the six standards makes principals look at data and find ways to help teachers improve student outcomes.
For instance, Dailey said she was unhappy the high school had a 37 percent college and career readiness score. She set her goal to be 50 percent by the end of this year. Dailey said teachers have been tracking every student on the college- and career-readiness benchmarks all year, and she had to raise her goal to 60 percent because students had already passed 50 percent at mid-year.
“We believe we can get there,” she said.
Schjoll found that reading was a weakness for 3rd-graders based on last year’s state test scores, so she set a goal to improve reading this year. She said she put specific plans in place and built her academic growth plan around 3rd-grade reading.
Stull said principals are responsible for helping teachers by improving processes and structures to support them in reaching their goals.
“For principals to be successful, based on the PPGES student-growth goals, the teachers have to be successful,” he said.
The PPGES contains six other standards: instructional leadership; school climate; human resource management; organizational management; communication and community relations; and professionalism.
Goode said the standards incorporate all phases of a principal’s job, but he considers instructional leadership to be the most important one of all. The indicators are more thorough than the previous ones, he added.
Dailey said, “For so many years, the principal was seen as the manager of the school and not really instructionally involved. They were the disciplinarian and took care of the managerial tasks. It’s the paradigm shift that everybody has been trying to get to where they serve as the instructional leader of the building and not just the manager of the building.”
To collect information on the seven standards, principal will receive input from VAL-Ed or TELL Kentucky in alternating years, self-reflection, their professional growth plan, observation, documentation of evidence related to specific standards, and goal setting for student growth.
Schjoll said principals may feel uncomfortable giving teachers input on their job performance, but it was very positive for her.
“Their voice is being heard, and I think that empowers them to feel like their instructional leader has to make some changes as well,” she said.
Goode said unlike previous principal evaluation systems, the PPGES requires central office administrators to know the school from many angles.
“To get a true picture of a school, you have to visit that school continuously throughout the school year,” he said. “A one-time visit is not going to give you an indicator of things like school climate, what is happening in the classrooms where the rubber really hits the road. You’ve got to be a part of that school to know the school.
“Those districts that don’t have that strong connection of getting into the schools, they’re going to find this process much more challenging to implement.”
Goode said implementing the PPGES takes more time than traditional methods of principal evaluation.
“As districts go through it, I think they’re going to see it makes principals better, it makes schools better, it ties the district office better to the schools, and that time is well worth it.”
MORE INFO …
Kevin Stull, firstname.lastname@example.org, (502) 564-1479