Public schools ponder coaching options for principals

Chicago Public Schools principals may soon face a kind of feedback once reserved for their students: report cards.

The new employment rating system, which the Board of Education is scheduled to vote on today, is designed to cope with an influx of freshly promoted principals, according to Gail Ward, the school system's principal preparation and development officer.

"Altogether, two-thirds of the system has principals that have less than four years of experience," Ward says. "This year, there were 171 vacancies filled. That is a very large number.

The new evaluation form promises to be more feedback-oriented in order to help these new principals meet administrative objectives.

Ward reports that managers will sit down with CPS principals to discuss annual goals for their schools' improvement.

"It's a new system of coaching," Ward says.

The Principal Preparation and Development Department has been working to revise the evaluation form for approximately two years.

Principals will be assessed on student academic improvement, student absenteeism, instructional leadership, effective implementation of programs, policies, or strategies to improve student academic achievement, school management and numerous other factors.

Not everyone is thrilled about this upcoming resolution.

"We thought that the previous format was excellent, but they [CPS] have a right to change it," says Designs for Change Executive Director Donald R. Moore.

Designs for Change is an educational reform organization that works  with Chicago's Local School Councils to develop principal performance evaluations.

If passed, the new evaluation form will be used this school year.