Component 2: Securing and Sustaining Stakeholder Investment & Cultivating a Strategic Communication Plan

The Importance of Stakeholder Investment

Evaluation systems are much more likely to be accepted, successfully implemented, and sustained if stakeholders are included in the design process. Stakeholder involvement throughout the design, implementation, assessment, and revision of principal evaluation systems increases the likelihood that the system is perceived as responsive, useful, and fair.

Communication Plan

Communication needs should be considered early in the process. A strategic communication plan detailing steps to inform the broader school community about implementation efforts, results, and future plans may increase the potential for statewide adoption. Misperceptions and opposition can be minimized if the state and districts communicate a clear and consistent message.

A strategic communication plan first identifies the essential messages and audiences. Potential key audiences could include pilot participants, school personnel, families, and the external community. The stakeholder group supporting the planning process can help determine the most effective channel of communication for a particular purpose and target audience.

For a more detailed discussion of these topics, see the full downloadable Acrobat version of A Practical Guide to Designing Comprehensive Principal Evaluation Systems.


Stakeholder Group

Guiding Questions

Group Roles & Expectations

Guiding Questions

Communication Plan

Guiding Questions


Guiding Questions

  • Has the stakeholder group been identified for involvement in the design of the evaluation model?
  • Who are the crucial stakeholders?
  • What state rules govern stakeholder engagement (e.g., open meetings laws)?
  • What potential conflicts of interest exist for stakeholders, and how will these conflicts be rectified without harming the trustworthiness of the process?
  • How can stakeholder support be garnered through a selection process?
  • Does the evaluation design group have adequate expertise to design all aspects of the improved evaluation system, or will other partners need to be added (e.g., researchers, university staff, consultants, policymakers)?
  • Have the group expectations and individual roles been established?

Group Expectations

  • Will the group have authority in making decisions, or will it serve in an advisory capacity?
  • What is the group’s purpose? Will it help design the system, provide recommendations, and/or provide approval?
  • What level of commitment will stakeholders be required to make (e.g., how frequently the team will meet, for how many months)?
  • Does legislation dictate the work of the stakeholder group?
  • What is the timeline for development?
  • What administrative or other supports are available?

Stakeholder Roles

  • What roles need to be filled (e.g., marketing, mobilizing support, interpreting legislation)?
  • Will some stakeholders, but not others, be involved in designing the system? Communicating plans and progress? Designing research?
  • How can design work be structured and facilitated most efficiently?
  • Do the design and communications action plans have dedicated staff to implement them?
  • Does the group have a strategic communication plan to keep the broader school community informed?


  • What key messages need to be communicated?
  • How will the communication plan gather and address common concerns about principal evaluation system design?
  • How will progress on the design, implementation, and success of the evaluation system be shared?
  • How will principal evaluation system results (e.g., satisfaction with implementation, fidelity of implementation, increased performance of principals, schools) be communicated, when, and by whom?

Target Audience

  • Which target audiences should be kept informed about the development, implementation, and results of efforts related to principal evaluation?
  • How will communication efforts be varied according to audience (e.g., board members require more detailed updates than community members)?
  • How can existing methods of communication be leveraged?
  • Who will be responsible for communicating with constituents and taskforce members?


  • Does the plan include communication strategies throughout the development process (e.g., in the beginning, during, and after each phase)?
  • How will feedback be gathered to continuously improve evaluation system design?


  • From whom does the group wish to solicit feedback?
  • At what points in the design process should feedback be solicited?


  • What methods will be used to obtain feedback from affected school personnel during the design process (e.g., surveys, focus groups)? How formalized should feedback be?
  • What are the indicators of strong system performance?
  • How will data on system performance be gathered, represented, and used?
  • What resources are currently available to gather information about system design satisfaction and system performance?
  • How should feedback be delivered and to whom? How, if at all, will feedback be communicated to stakeholders?
  • Will the state and district hire an impartial external evaluator?


  • How will the group respond to feedback (e.g., Q&A document, FAQ newsletter?)
  • Will student outcomes be considered before changes are considered?


Stakeholder Engagement and Communication (Guide to Implementation: Resources for Applied Practice) This paper from the Center for Educator Compensation Reform provides strategies and tips for building support through effective communication for performance-based compensation systems.  
Each state and district should create a communication plan that is tailored to the preferences of stakeholder groups. The communication plan should be ongoing and include routine evaluation of plan effectiveness. See the following for examples of communication plans: