The Perceptions of Elementary School Principals in Bahrain on the Principal Evaluation System and Its Impact on Instructional Behaviors



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This thesis explores the value principals perceive on evaluation or assessment to change instructional behaviors. Specifically, two research questions guided this investigation: 1) How do elementary principals perceive the effectiveness of the implementation of the process by which they are evaluated? 2) How do principals perceive the impact of the evaluation system by which they are evaluated on their instructional behaviors and the achievement of their students? The study of the relationship between principal instructional behaviors and students’ achievement has been a concern for the Ministry of Education for over 6 years in Bahrain and the CSB-PMS was the latest tool adopted to reduce this anxiety. However, no study was conducted to investigate principals’ perceptions regarding the impact of the CSB-PMS on instructional leadership behaviors. The purpose of this study, then, was to explore whether, or the degree to which, the CSB-PMS process includes assessment of instructional leadership behaviors found to enhance student achievement. The study implemented in elementary schools in Bahrain, aimed to capture 10 principals’ perspectives at their school sites and 2 School District Heads’ experience regarding the phenomena in my questions and how principals’ instructional behaviors are impacted by the CSB-PMS. Although there is an ample literature of research, which has been conducted in the field of principal evaluation and instructional behaviors in the U.S., it remains difficult to apply these practices to Bahrain due to the specific needs of students in Bahrain. The semi-structured qualitative research design, conducted over two weeks, allowed for a thorough analysis. Findings reveled that principals do place a high value on the CSB-PMS implementation process. The principals in elementary schools do value the evaluation sequence and are aware of the three stages designed to track their growth. Moreover, it is the principal evaluation system that explicitly requires principals to demonstrate progress and commitment toward their instructional objectives. The CSB-PMS is built to establish a culture of accountability, and is structured based on “smart” indicators for performance measurement and documentation strategies to evaluate and capture principals’ success, including a self- evaluation to highlight strengths and weaknesses. The answers to the second research question revealed numerous elements that seem to positively impact principal instructional behaviors and influence student achievement. Apart from holding high expectations and interest for a well-structured and organized CSB-PMS for instructional behaviors, the evaluation process required the involvement of the principal in setting relevant instructional goals, involvement in instructional and curriculum alignment, and preparations for and the development of innovative instruction. Additionally, influencing students’ achievement through constructive and instant feedback and establishing positive rapport with families in the community were perceived important to impacting instructional behaviors. The identified themes constitute evidence that while instructional behaviors may not be the central focus; principals do depend on the CSB-PMS to lead them to exhibit innovative instructional behaviors. Results of this study suggest that there are key elements for potential engagement approaches to create more meaningful and relevant principal evaluation. Findings in this study suggested that the CSB-PMS plays a key role for all higher performers to ensure inclusion of the 5 effective instructional leader practices. The most important instructional leader practice perceived by the higher performers group was the fourth dimension, influence students’ achievement through constructive and instant feedback. Also, it was explicitly clear in this study that the CSB-PMS makes an insignificant contribution toward lower performers displaying the five elements of effective instructional leadership behaviors because of the lack of coordination between the CSB, MoE and the SDHs. Keywords Principal evaluation, instructional behaviors, principal engagement, feedback, leadership effectiveness, innovative instructional behaviors