Gretchen Guffy is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

Yesterday was a big day for 50CAN: RI-CAN and MinnCAN each sent out the very first edition of their education research roundup.

Each month the national policy & research team will join forces with the government relations & policy managers of each state CAN to round up the latest education reform research, summarize the key findings, and explain the implications of those findings for their state.

Below is an example of how we package a study for the research roundup (You can also see–and sign up to receive–the full RI-CAN research roundup and the MinnCAN roundup).

Designing Principal Evaluation Systems: Research to Guide Decision Making
American Institutes for Research. July 2011.

Nearly all the research shows that teacher quality is the most important school-based factor affecting a child’s education, but this new study finds that principals have a big impact, too. In fact, principals are the second most important school factor in student achievement, largely because of the relationships they have with their teachers. Principals can serve as mentors to help teachers develop professionally, affect a teacher’s decision to join or leave a school, and foster a positive school culture that encourages success for teachers and students alike. But a lack of reliable principal training and evaluation systems means that many principals lack a support mechanism to help them develop into the strong school leaders they need to be. This report outlines important features of a strong principal evaluation system and how a good evaluation system can help a principal meet their ultimate goal: boosting student achievement.

Last year, Minnesota passed a law in which districts will have to implement an evaluation system for principals that incorporates student achievement. A state-commissioned working group is developing a model principal evaluation system for districts to use. As the working group develops the model, this study offers useful information on how to build a smart evaluation system in which principals receive meaningful feedback and support to build their skillset and serve as effective leaders of their schools.

Read about principal evaluation systems here

At 50CAN we work hard to sift through all of the education research floating out there and only showcase the trustworthy studies, but we also think it’s important to make those studies accessible and easy to understand for everyone, not just fellow policy wonks.


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