State Spotlight: Michigan and Connecticut Seek Educator Input in Principal Evaluations
  • By admin
  • March 11, 2020

By Grace Shelton


In continuing our deep dive into the use of surveys in statewide evaluations, we further examined NCTQ’s database in order to determine whether or not states with successful principal effectiveness ratings utilize surveys and educator feedback when evaluating administrators. When doing this, we found that NCTQ not only awards points to states using surveys, but specifically calls out the best practices of Michigan and Connecticut—both of which have met goals and require or allow the collection of feedback and surveys for administrator evaluations. 

NCTQ scores on measures of principal effectiveness with the following criteria. Firstly, NCTQ believes states should require objective measures of student growth to be used in part to determine principal effectiveness (not just teacher effectiveness). Secondly, states should require principal evaluations to be linked in some way to teacher effectiveness and instructional leadership measures. Next, there should be some process in place that requires ineffective principals be placed on improvement plans. And lastly, but most importantly in our discussion, states should require, or explicitly allow, multiple surveys (teachers, students, climate data, community, etc.) to determine if a principal is successful. 

So, in determining whether or not states met principal effectiveness goals, NCTQ combined data across all measures listed above. When doing this, the report specifically highlights the work of Michigan and Connecticut. In Connecticut, evaluations require principals to be rated on multiple student learning indicators and teacher effectiveness ratings. The state’s evaluation system also includes parent and teacher feedback (surveys). Furthermore, the state utilizes well-designed improvement plans for any principal that is falling below standards. 

The Connecticut Department of Education provides multiple resources on their website for anyone interested in learning more about their administrator evaluations. On this page, surveys given to teachers, students, and parents can be downloaded for anyone to see what kinds of questions stakeholders are asked about a principal’s performance. Although districts are not required to use these surveys, they are highly encouraged based on their design. Students are asked more holistic questions about their school experience in general. The student survey is designed for grades levels four and above. All parents are allowed to participate in the parent survey and are asked general questions about administration in the school in general, rather than singling out one individual. The same is true for teachers and staff in the building. The surveys are all carefully designed to align with state standards and districts have the option to customize the survey if they wish to ask additional questions. These practices are clearly working to Connecticut’s advantage, as their principal effectiveness ratings increase statewide. It is also worth mentioning that the ease of which parents, students, and teachers can access these surveys indicates how much the state values stakeholder input in principal evaluation. 

Michigan was highlighted based not on current performance but on a new system set to take place in the 2019-2020 school year. This new principal evaluation system requires principals to be rated on a combination of student growth data and a principal’s proficiency at evaluating other teachers using a prescribed evaluation tool. Additionally, at any place where student, parent, and teacher feedback is available, it must also be included. Michigan will also be requiring improvement plans for underperforming principals.

According to this 2019 report, which undoubtedly provided much of the research used in the creation of the new system, the previous evaluation system primarily relied on performance rating scales and student data. However, goal setting and training resources were not utilized heavily, and the report encouraged the state to consider additional supports in this regard. The report also suggested that training on the evaluation system allows administrators to better understand what they’re being evaluated on and why and might help shift priorities to reflect what is deemed important by the state or district. While much of this report reflected the shortcomings of the previous administrator evaluation system, it is important to note that all data was collected through administrator surveys, and this data was ultimately used to create the new system that NCTQ highlighted as a best practice in the coming year. 

Survey data is important when examining the effectiveness of a principal or a teacher. Stakeholder input provides the clearest picture of how a person is doing in their position. Principals, because they affect so many people in the school building, would do well to survey students, teachers, other staff, and parents to get an accurate sense of their performance. Connecticut provides multiple examples of surveys being utilized in evaluation systems, and Michigan’s new process of incorporating feedback is sure to provide a clearer picture on principal effectiveness in the state. 


360 Degree Teacher and Principal Surveys, School Climate Surveys, Community Surveys… we’ve got it all. Or, you can bring your own survey/measures to our platform.  Let’s talk.  Contact Resonant Education and let us know how we can help.