In 2013, ERO evaluated the appraisal of principals in 173 primary and 27 secondary schools. The national report,
Supporting school improvement though effective principal appraisal, presents the findings of this evaluation.
Employing and managing the principal is one of the most important jobs for a board of trustees. Robust appraisal of the principal ensures accountability and ongoing development throughout the school. The accountability aspect assures the board that the principal is:
The developmental aspect of appraisal includes the principal’s own development and the principal’s implementation of plans to develop teaching and learning and improve student achievement.
In most of the schools, ERO found that principal appraisal contributed to one or more of the three improvement purposes of appraisal - the principal’s own development, staff development and improved student achievement.
However, the quality of principal appraisal varied and was more likely to focus on principal and staff development than on improving student achievement.
The schools with the most improvement–focused appraisal understood the importance of the principal’s role in achieving school goals and the need to provide meaningful support for the principal.
Principal appraisal contributed more effectively to improved staff development and outcomes for students when:
Improvement–focused schools demonstrated a commitment to raising achievement with a planned approach to improving teaching and achievement. In these schools:
The appendices in this report provide useful information for boards (including the principal) when reviewing and developing their principal appraisal system and processes.
Appendix 2 is the survey ERO used for schools in the survey sample to review their own practices and processes. Boards could use these as part of discussions about or review of existing appraisal practices.
Appendix 3 outlines the evaluative questions ERO used when looking at and discussing systems and processes in the schools visited. Boards could work through these over time and use the findings in the report to find out more about the good practices schools are using.
Appendix 4 provides links to the resources ERO found when investigating all the different appraisal information available for boards.
The Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Schools Trustees Association have many resources on their websites:
ERO’s booklet School Trustees: Helping you ask the right questions also has useful information: