Principal Observation Tool Strengthens School District Leadership

Matthew A. Clifford

Principal observation tools are used to accurately evaluate principal performance by helping principal supervisors and coaches improve instructional leadership. As part of a territory-wide effort to improve principal evaluation in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Tammie Knights, an AIR senior technical assistance consultant and a former principal herself, watches principals deliver feedback to teachers on their classroom practice, either in real time or on video.

The research-based tool described here, part of AIR’s suite of school leadership evaluation tools, was validated by more than 150 principals and superintendents, and contributes to evidence-based coaching and performance evaluations for principals.

Guided by the tool, principal coaches and supervisors follow a structured process to observe principals’ practice and help principals develop the core skills necessary to give teachers consistent, high-quality, and actionable instructional feedback. The Instructional Feedback Observation Tool is built around five core indicators identified by research as central to providing good instructional feedback:

  • Use of evidence
  • Professional interactions
  • Differentiated questioning
  • Leading conversations
  • Written feedback