Do Principals' Professional Practice Ratings Reflect Their Contributions to Student Achievement? Evidence from Pennsylvania's Framework for Leadership

Working Paper 46
Publisher: Cambridge, MA: Mathematica Policy Research
Jun 28, 2016
Moira McCullough, Stephen Lipscomb, Hanley Chiang, and Brian Gill

Key Findings:

  • FFL scores differentiate principals who make larger or smaller contributions to student achievement. Higher full scores and scores in two of the four domains are significantly or marginally significantly associated with value-added in all subjects combined and with value-added in math specifically.
  • FFL has concurrent validity primarily among principals with three to six years of tenure as their school’s leader.
  • Higher FFL scores were associated with larger value-added among middle school principals, but we did not detect any relationships for elementary school principals or high school principals.
Although states and school districts have begun to evaluate school principals, there is little evidence on the validity of principal evaluation measures. To fill this gap, we examined Pennsylvania’s Framework for Leadership (FFL), a tool for measuring and evaluating principals’ professional practices. Using data on more than 300 principals, we find that FFL evaluation scores are significantly and positively correlated with estimates of principals’ contributions to student achievement. The strongest relationships are in the domains of (1) systems leadership and (2) professional and community leadership. Contributions to math achievement were more highly correlated than contributions to achievement in other subjects. The results are driven mainly by evaluations of principals who have led their schools for at least three years. This is the first study to find evidence that ratings of principals’ professional practice are correlated with credible measures of principals’ contributions to student achievement.
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Hanley Chiang
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Brian Gill
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Stephen Lipscomb
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