Does Context Matter? Implications for 360° Principal Evaluation when School and Leader Contextual Factors Are Considered

Kristy Elizabeth Miller, University of Pennsylvania


Federal, State and Local education policy makers, along with school systems across the United States have attempted to leverage largely behavioral initiatives, such as new school-leader accountability systems, student assessments, a national curriculum, and punitive financial policies in order to improve student achievement. Unlike typical first order changes within existing systems and frameworks. This study has examined the need for second order changes by analyzing three years of school district outcomes from The Vanderbilt Assessment of Leadership in Education (Val-Ed). Challenging the premise that, having been made aware of their performance regarding specific learning-centered leadership behaviors, district principals will improve their behavior, the study utilized a quantitative approach to analyze three-years of 360-degree leadership scores from district principals, principals’ supervisors, and teachers. The analysis revealed that principals consistently overrate their performance while principal supervisors and the school’s teachers are more consistently ‘on the same page’ in regard to the principal’s learning-centered leadership. The latter two raters consistently score the principal’s performance lower than the principal scores themselves. Findings also revealed that principal ‘churn’ did not have a discernable impact on how principals performed according to their teachers and supervisor, as scores from three-years of consistent principal leadership did not differ from principals who left the school after one or two years for any of Val-Ed’s six Core Components or six Key Processes. The study also found that student poverty and the size of the school’s teaching staff had negative impacts on principal ratings. Principals scored relatively higher on the processes of Supporting and Communicating, and relatively lower on the core components of Connections to External Communities and Performance Accountability. School and Principal contextual variables consistently represented small to medium negative effect sizes on principal performance scores.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Educational evaluation|Educational administration|Education Policy

Recommended Citation

Miller, Kristy Elizabeth, "Does Context Matter? Implications for 360° Principal Evaluation when School and Leader Contextual Factors Are Considered" (2020). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI28029541.