As of this school year, student achievement accounts for 40 percent to 50 percent of principals' evaluations in each of those school systems, while district leaders in a number of other places are preparing to make similar changes in coming school years.
The switch to the new-breed evaluation systems comes on the heels of efforts nationwide to incorporate student-achievement measures into teachers' evaluations. For principals, the move is being prompted by U.S. Department of Education grant programs such as Race to the Top, which requires states or districts to tie principal effectiveness "in significant part" to growth in student achievement, and by No Child Left Behind waivers, which allow states flexibility on some requirements of the federal law in exchange for adopting certain policies, including revamped educator-evaluation procedures.
Test scores are generally one of several measures of student achievement used in new principal evaluations, which also look at school climate surveys and improvements in teachers' effectiveness, among other gauges.
"There's this collective realization that it's more complex than just a single test score," said Dick Flanary, the deputy executive director of programs and services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals, a professional group based in Reston, Va. But both the NASSP and the Alexandria, Va.-based National Association of Elementary School Principals, which released recommendations about principal evaluations last fall, say that making 40 percent or more of a principal's evaluation dependent on student-achievement measures is inappropriate, even if that chunk of the review relies on more than just state test scores.