The school principal’s role is complex, with demands that are increasing in number and in levels of stress. The job requires both administrative and instructional effectiveness, with responsibilities that include managing building operations; handling student discipline issues; communicating with parents, teachers, and students; developing a positive school climate, and observing and coaching teachers.

Man sitting at office desk with laptop open in front of him

Given the complex nature of a principal’s job, it only makes sense that principal evaluation also should be multifaceted, incorporating an array of data from multiple sources. Yet as many schools recognize the value in a comprehensive approach to principal evaluation, they struggle with implementation. 

The Network for Educator Effectiveness offers a comprehensive approach designed to help principals and principal supervisors.  

Like our multiple-measures approach to teacher evaluation, the Network for Educator Effectiveness’ Principal Evaluation system incorporates four independent measures that help document in concrete terms the ability of a building administrator to be an effective school leader.  

The NEE Principal Evaluation is based on the 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL) and is designed for use by lead school principals and central office administrators who have responsibility for supervising principals. Although principals can impact student achievement directly, they typically have a more indirect impact by influencing school practices and culture. Research suggests that the primary way principals impact student achievement is by improving teacher effectiveness. Therefore, the NEE Principal Evaluation system emphasizes specific research-based instructional leadership practices using four measures: 

  1. NEE Building Improvement Plan 
  2. NEE Building Personnel Development Plan
  3. NEE Principal Professional Development Plan
  4. NEE Teacher Survey 

Each measure, when utilized and scored through the NEE Data Tool online evaluation system, will appear on a principal’s summative evaluation report; however, no determination is made about the principal’s level of overall effectiveness. Principal supervisors review the comprehensive data to identify a principal’s strengths and recommend areas for improvement. 

Let’s review each component of the NEE Principal Evaluation system in more detail. 

NEE Building Improvement Plan 

The active use of a vibrant school plan causes positive changes in the school environment that lead to better student performance and better workplace culture for school staff. The NEE Building Improvement Plan is part of an overarching process of checking for a sound school plan that is used effectively. 

Another NEE Principal Evaluation measure, the teacher survey, provides valuable insight into the culture of the building as it relates to the school plan. 

The Building Improvement Plan Organizer is provided as a resource to NEE principals. The plan template contains sections that help building leaders organize and present their school plan in a manner that assists both the design of the plan and the scoring/evaluation of the plan by their supervisor. The organizer does not replace the actual Building Improvement Plan. Instead, it provides opportunity for principals to showcase how they thought through the components of the plan and how they implemented it with stakeholders across the school community. The Building Improvement Plan Scoring Rubric is provided to support supervisors in scoring the implementation of the plan. Each section of the template has a 0-4 point scoring scale. 

NEE Building Personnel Development Plan 

Research findings are clear that student performance is higher in buildings where the principal has a strong commitment to the practices of improving instructional staff. The NEE Building Personnel Development Plan places added focus on the role of the principal in developing a cadre of teachers into a strong instructional team.  

The goal of this component is for a small group of teachers selected by the principal to become stronger members of the instructional team. This measure asks the principal to routinely (at least monthly) monitor the professional growth process of these teachers to ensure they are receiving support and making the necessary gains. 

The Building Personnel Development Plan Organizer and Scoring Rubric are provided to assist principals in developing the plan and supervisors in scoring the plan. Each section of the plan has a 0-4 point scoring scale. 

NEE Principal Professional Development Plan 

The NEE Principal Professional Development Plan documents the leader’s rationale for selecting a focused area of development for their own professional improvement, the sequential activities of the plan, and the data-proven impact of the plan on teachers and students. Like its teacher counterpart, the PPDP has three parts: the pre-implementation planning phase, the mid-year progress documentation, and the end-of-year documentation. 

The Principal Professional Development Plan Organizer and Scoring Rubric are provided to assist principals in developing the plan and supervisors in scoring the plan. Each section of the plan has a 0-4 point scoring scale. 

NEE Teacher Survey 

The primary function of the NEE Teacher Survey is to gather anonymous teacher input on specific school leadership characteristics. The survey comprises 47 items, which teachers respond to on a Likert scale. The questions are aligned with the NEE Leader Standards and Indicators. The survey is administered through the NEE Data Tool. It is strongly recommended that surveys have at least 20 respondents to safeguard anonymity and increase reliability in the results. 

Analysis of Building Management

We have now discussed all four measures of NEE’s principal evaluation, but there’s actually one more component to mention. There is another aspect of the school principal role that is not addressed through the other NEE evaluation components: building management. Although it’s not a scored element of the principal evaluation process, the Analysis of Building Management organizer can be utilized to document the principal’s building management efforts and to identify any concerns. NEE schools can access the PDF form on the Help and Resources menu of the NEE Data Tool.

NEE Principal Summative Evaluation Timeline and Procedure  

The annual administrator review cycle should begin in the late spring or early summer unless the principal is a new hire, in which case these events will occur in late July or early August. Starting the process in the spring allows principals sufficient time to review data and set goals for the next school year. 

It is the responsibility of the principal’s supervisor to conduct a well-organized spring meeting with the principal to carefully plan the activities involved in this process and set clear expectations for the principal. The school-level NEE Indicator Trend Report and other student performance data should be used to assist in finding key areas of improvement and focus for principals in the coming school year. 

Before the start of the school year, principals should complete the pre-implementation phases of the building improvement plan, principal professional development plan, and building personnel development plan. Supervisors should review and, if applicable, score these components. Throughout the year, principals should revisit these plans to document activities and progress. Supervisors should schedule a mid-year review in the late fall to discuss progress. 

The NEE Teacher Survey is often administered in January. The principal’s annual review conference, including the formal summative report, can then take place in late January or early February. 

The principal’s summative report is not the end of a process; it’s a time of reflection and redirection for the future. The data presented in the summative report should be used to identify strengths and areas for improvement to inform the following years’ professional growth activities. 

For more about NEE’s Principal Evaluation system, browse the Principal Evaluation blog category.

The Network for Educator Effectiveness (NEE) is a simple yet powerful comprehensive system for educator evaluation that helps educators grow, students learn, and schools improve. Developed by preK-12 practitioners and experts at the University of Missouri, NEE brings together classroom observation, student feedback, teacher curriculum planning, and professional development as measures of effectiveness in a secure online portal designed to promote educator growth and development.