HEAD OF SCHOOL EVALUATION PROCEDURES IN ORTHODOX JEWISH DAY SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND CANADA

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2017-05

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Abstract

School leaders hold the primary responsibility and power to make decisions aimed at improving student achievement (Seashore-Louis, Leithwood, Wahlstrom & Anderson, 2010). Studies suggest that school leadership evaluations can have an impact on leadership quality and result in improved student performance (Holdaway & Ward, 2000). However, a review of the literature by Goldring, Porter, Murphy, Elliott, and Cravens (2009) showed no comprehensive survey of current principal leadership assessment practices in the field. In 2014, the Avi Chai Foundation completed their fourth survey of Jewish education in the United States (Schick, 2014). There are 255,000 students in 861 Jewish private schools which is a 37% increase from 1998. Orthodox Jews represent 85% of students attending Jewish Day Schools in the United States. With the numbers of Orthodox Jewish students and schools growing, the need for impactful school leadership increases. This exploratory study reviewed the current evaluation processes of Heads of School at Orthodox Jewish Day Schools. Eighteen interviews were conducted with school leaders, using a cognitive interview framework, to understand what current evaluation practices are being used and explore the perspective of these leaders on best practices for future assessments. Of the 18 leaders, only three had experienced formal evaluations in the past three years, and three additional leaders had one evaluation each in their current role more than three years ago. Those evaluated experience a variety of processes both regarding who performed the evaluation and the way the data was collected. The three leaders who experienced evaluations during the past three years reported that the evaluation has had a positive impact on their practice. This study found that school leaders value evaluation and, when done correctly, embrace the practice. When describing their perception of the best method of evaluation, leaders emphasized trust as the most significant factor in an effective evaluation process. Evaluation teams and data collection methods must be thoughtfully developed with input from school leader to ensure effectiveness. Finally, communication between the evaluators and the leader being evaluated must be clear and initiated early in the process.

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Keywords

Jewish Day School, Head of School, Evaluation, Torah Umesorah, Orthodox Day School, Leadership

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