Student achievement will now account for 50 percent of the evaluations given to principals in Chicago Public Schools.
The student achievement portion of the new evaluation will be twice the minimum recommended by a 2010 state law. The remaining half of the evaluation will be based on appraisals of leadership.
If students do well compared with national standards, principals will be rewarded with bonuses and other incentives under the evaluation system. Officials, however, didn't make clear Thursday what will happen if students don't improve their scores.
"We're finally at a point where we're holding all of our team leaders to a system of accountability for academic success for our kids," said schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. "We really think that because the principal is a key lever in student achievement and one of the key levers for our advancement of our academic agenda, that people should be held to the highest standard."
The evaluations, which begin this year, will also make use of another piece of data CPS already has started collecting — whether students are on track for graduation, starting in the third grade. Until now, district officials have tracked only freshmen for graduation.
The state's Performance Evaluation Reform Act mandated all schools in Illinois to change how teachers' and principals' performances are measured, including a requirement that student test scores be part of the assessment. Under the 2010 law, principal evaluation systems must include a minimum of 25 percent growth in student test scores in the first year and go up to 30 percent the following year.
For teachers, student scores start making up 25 percent of evaluations and moving to 30 percent in the third year under the new contract with the Chicago Teachers Union. That issue was part of the negotiations during the teachers strike in September.
Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, said principals have mixed feelings about the evaluations being based so highly on student gains.
"We think it's very high," she said. "We think it's overreliance on testing, but then again, all of it is not testing. I am not disappointed by the fact that there is no reliance on any one single high-stakes test."
For elementary school principals, the evaluation data will include gains in student math and reading scores; the readiness of eighth-graders for high school; and a narrowing of the achievement gap for students learning English as a second language and special education students.
For high school principals, improvement on assessment tests will be taken into account as well as graduation, dropout and attendance rates.
Reform group Advance Illinois, which helped draft the 2010 legislation, said including those other factors give a better read on how principals are doing.
"While teacher evaluations look at student growth, CPS' principal evaluation appears to look at growth and an array of other performance factors, such as attendance, graduation rates and on-track rates," said Executive Director Robin Steans.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times