Assistant Principals' Perceptions of Student Progress Goals and Their Impact on Instructional Leadership




Ragone, Matthew James

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This study examines high school assistant principals’ perceptions of a single, large, suburban school district’s student achievement-based teacher evaluation policy, and how the policy interacts with their instructional leadership capacity. As the result of accountability policies within No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race to the Top (RttT), districts across the nation have adopted teacher evaluation policies that attempt to hold teachers directly accountable for their student’s achievement. Such policies, including the one under study, require 40% of teachers’ final ratings include some measure of student progress. This district defined student achievement through teacher created, student progress goals (SPGs). In order to examine how this policy is perceived and implemented at the ground level, I interviewed 16 high school assistant principals from a variety of schools in District A. I found that a majority of these assistant principals did not consider SPGs essential to assessing teacher quality or for holding teachers accountable for student achievement. I also found that assistant principals’ unrestricted authority, and the presence of school teams, such as collaborative teams (CTs), impacted SPG policy implementation to the extent that the policy was modified. Finally, I found that SPG policy had a positive impact on participants’ instructional leadership capacity because it created opportunities for assistant principals to have data conversations with teachers who were able to monitor struggling students, including students of ESOL and special education subgroups.



Education policy, Educational leadership, Assistant principals, Co-construction, Instructional leadership, Student progress goals, Teacher evaluation, Teacher quality