State Support Map

The variability in instructional standards’ definitions and content led us to explore whether the same level of variability exists in implementation and support. We spent some time digging in to how states are supporting principals and their supervisors in the implementation of these systems, and whether that support is focused on building instructional leadership capacity.

To understand the role that states are playing in supporting LEA implementation of principal evaluation systems in the area of instructional leadership, we reached out to all state education agencies (SEAs) via email with a set of questions centered around supporting implementation of principal evaluation. (See Methods section for more information.)

We received responses from 39 SEAs and were able to conduct phone interviews with 28 of those agencies. Based on these communications and our review of information available on SEA websites, we identified themes in the types of support that states are providing.

We learned that states are supporting instructional leadership in a variety of ways.* Nearly all states, for example, are providing some level of training and resource guides to evaluators on evaluation systems; while some are organizing principal networks, leadership academies, and induction and mentoring programs; and others are adding more staff or creating partnerships to provide individualized support to leaders at the school and LEA level. This visualization highlights those findings. 

Within these varying approaches, states also differ in to whom they provide support. While most states (43) are providing support to both principals and their supervisors in the form of training and online resource guides that accompany evaluation instruments, fewer states are providing more in-depth supports such as leadership academies and mentoring programs—10 states for principals and 4 states for principals and their supervisors—or adding capacity through additional staff or partnerships to provide individualized support to leaders at the school and LEA level—2 states for principals and 4 states for principals and their supervisors.

Our report, Guiding Principals, delves deeper into how states are supporting implementation of evaluation systems at the local level, and provides detailed profiles of how three states—Missouri, Texas, and Minnesota—are supporting instructional leadership in practice.

Trainings & Resources

Most states are providing training and online resource guides that accompany evaluation instruments. For example, Colorado’s state education department received feedback from supervisors of non-core subject classroom teachers (physical education teachers, special education teachers, early childhood education teachers) that they needed “practical ideas guides” as companions to rubrics to guide teachers and their supervisors in better understanding evaluation in those specific contexts and ensuring more valid and reliable evaluations. In response, the SEA generated guides that correspond to the standards and elements evaluated in the teacher rubric, and provide examples of practices that may be observed during classroom observation, as well as specific artifacts that evaluators should look for when conducting observations.

Similarly, most states are supporting principal supervisors by providing resources, such as evaluation guidebooks, to help with their implementation of principal evaluation and support systems. New Mexico, for example, developed a School Leader Evaluation Guidance Workbook for principal supervisors that includes an overview of three principal evaluation components, including an assessment of feedback to teachers. The “observations” component of a principal’s evaluation is based on how and how well he or she is evaluating teachers and teacher outcomes. Principal supervisors randomly review feedback that has been provided to teachers, and assess whether principals provided “quality, constructive feedback that teachers can use to improve their practice.”

Organizing Networks, Academies, or Mentoring and Induction Programs

Some states (14) are also providing more in-depth supports such as organizing principal networks, leadership academies and mentoring and induction programs. Ten states provide these for principals and four states provide these for principals and their supervisors. For example, Idaho is supporting early-career principals through an Idaho Principal Mentoring Project where six mentors—retired superintendents and principals— are working with 32 principals in 2017–18 around four instructional leadership areas: interpersonal and facilitation skills, teacher observation and feedback, effective school-level and classroom-level practices, and use of data to improve instruction. During the program, mentors receive training three times a year and make one to two school site visits per quarter, conduct phone calls with principals twice a month, and provide virtual mentoring as needed. Additionally, principals and mentors attend three in-person institutes hosted by the Idaho State Department of Education. 

Adding Capacity for Local Support

States are also adding capacity through additional staff or partnerships to provide individualized support to leaders at the school and LEA level. Two states do this for principals and four states do this for principals and their supervisors. In Missouri, the SEA has added capacity to focus on providing comprehensive and ongoing professional development to principals in order to retain them and continue to build their leadership, which includes growing their skills in developing and providing feedback to teachers. Minnesota and Texas indicated that research on the critical role that principal supervisors can play in promoting instructional leadership, as well as the development of principal supervisor standards, had led them to expand and/or shift focus to supporting principal supervisors. Our Guiding Principals report provides detailed profiles of these state efforts.

*This data is based on our review of all state education agency websites, email responses from 11 states, and phone interviews with staff from 28 state education agencies. We recognize that all state efforts may not be listed on state websites and that this may not encompass all state efforts to support principals and their supervisors. If we've missed something you'd like to see reflected in our data, please contact Roxanne Garza.