Component 4: Determining the Structure of the Evaluation System

Determining the Structure of the Evaluation System

The structure of the principal evaluation system contributes to validity of measures and fidelity of implementation. States and districts should clearly communicate the structure of the evaluation system to evaluators, principals, and other stakeholders and create documents that adequately specify the procedure. State and district principal evaluation designers should create documents that include the following:

  • Frequency, order, and timing of the evaluation procedure for all principals
  • Any steps of the procedure that fall under the discretion of local evaluators or principals
  • The conditions under which evidence collection and evaluation should occur
  • The method for scoring and representing principal performance

States and districts report that the most challenging aspect of structuring the principal evaluation system is the determination of evidence levels, weights, and integration.

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


Multiple measures

Guiding Questions


Guiding Questions

Weight of measures

Guiding Questions

Levels of proficiency

Guiding Questions

Feedback form

Guiding Questions

Consequences of scores

Guiding Questions

  • Will the state promote or use multiple measures?
  • What do federal and state legislation, professional association documents, and research say about use of single or multiple measures for principal evaluation?
  • If a single measure of principal performance is selected, how strong is the evidence base that the single measure is adequate?
  • What combination of measures would more accurately capture the breadth of a principal’s roles and responsibilities? Which of these measures might the state wish to mandate for all evaluations?
  • Will measures vary depending on school context, grade level, or other factors?
  • Has the structure of the evaluation system been determined?
  • How often will principals be evaluated formatively, and how often will they be evaluated summatively?
  • How, if at all, will the frequency of evaluation be differentiated?
  • Will formative evaluations include the entire procedure or part of the evaluation procedure?
  • Who will be responsible for administering the evaluation system, and how will these evaluators be trained?
  • When will data collection and feedback be provided so that all pertinent data are available for review?
  • Has the state determined the percentage (weight) of each measure in the overall principal rating?
  • Will each measure be weighted differently depending on:
    • Its relation to student achievement?
    • Its relation to supporting principals’ improvement of practice?
    • Its relation to state and district improvement priorities?
    • Its reliability and validity?
  • Will the weight of each measure fluctuate depending on the level of reliability and validity that is proven over time? What process will be used to improve or capture improvements of a measure’s reliability or validity over time?
  • Will the weight of measures vary depending on school context, grade level, or principal experience level?
  • Have the levels of principal proficiency been determined?
  • How many levels of proficiency can be explicitly defined?
  • Can rubrics be developed to ensure fidelity?
  • How often can data be generated?
  • What implementation limitations should be considered (e.g., how frequently assessments can be conducted)?
  • Will baseline data be analyzed prior to making decisions regarding principal proficiency levels?
  • Has the state or district developed a rubric or feedback form?
  • What degree of flexibility will the state or district allow for reporting evaluation results to principals?
  • Will the state or district use a rubric, scorecard, checklist, or other feedback form?
  • Will the state or district require evaluators to write a narrative to accompany the feedback form? If so, what should be included in the narrative?
  • How will the evaluation results be used to inform principals' professional development and learning plans? How will the evaluation results be used to inform state or district professional development offerings to principals?

Meeting or Exceeding Performance Levels

  • Are opportunities for improvement embedded in the evaluation cycle?
  • How, if at all, will evaluation results influence monetary or other incentives for principals?
  • Will the state or district provide public recognition or advanced certification for master principals or principals who consistently exceed expectations?
  • Are the measures technically defensible for personnel and compensation decisions?

Failure to Meet Acceptable Performance Levels

  • Are opportunities for improvement embedded in the evaluation cycle?
  • Are the measures technically defensible for personnel and compensation decisions?
  • Will support be provided to assist principals who demonstrate unacceptable performance?
  • How much time and assistance, if any, will be provided for a principal to demonstrate improvement before termination is considered?


How Six States Are Implementing Principal Evaluation Systems

This brief, developed by researchers at WestEd, provides a snapshot of principal evaluation systems and policies in the following six states: Delaware, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. For each state, an overview of the policy context is provided followed by a description of the structure of the state’s principal evaluation system and method(s) of implementation.



The structure of the Ohio Principal Evaluation System (OPES) consists of two formal observations at least 30 minutes each in duration and includes periodic building walkthroughs. Each principal receives a written report of the results of the evaluation. In addition, the principal receives a summative evaluation report. This report combines the principal’s performance rating (weighted at 50 percent) with the results of student growth measures (also weighted at 50 percent).

As part of the structure of OPES, evaluators have a principal performance rubric to use as they assess and monitor leadership performance and determine an overall principal effectiveness rating. This performance rating rubric differentiates principal effectiveness using five rating categories (ineffective, developing, effective/proficient, highly effective/accomplished, and distinguished).

The structure of OPES is based on the belief that principals will develop skills and knowledge over time with regular feedback and support. To enable evaluators to make good on this belief, they participate in training modules on providing quality feedback and the importance of feedback to improve principals’ practice.

For more details, see the following: