The Impact of the Professional Development and Appraisal System on the Role of the Principal in Staff Development
This study examines the changing role of the school principal from a managerial position to one now focused on instructional leadership. Specifically, the investigation will examine principals evaluating teachers and providing appropriate staff development. A review of recent literature claims that fewer and fewer school administrators are qualified to take on the role of a school leader (Schools need good leaders now, 2007); thus, many of them do not feel competent enough to evaluate teachers or provide relevant staff development. The nexus of this research comes from a research project that focused on school principals’ thoughts and insights related to their role as a school leader. A convenience sample of 178 principals from the southeast region of Texas responded to a questionnaire in a cognitive interview setting that covered a range of topics, including principals’ views and practices within the context of the Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS), the Texas state-developed and recommended instrument for conducting teacher performance appraisal. The survey also included the principals’ attitudes and thoughts with regards to the importance of staff development, and whether they connect PDAS data to offered staff development courses. Analysis of the responses reveal that principals do not hold strong, central beliefs in the importance of PDAS in assessing the developmental needs of teachers, nor do they agree on the purpose this evaluation tool serves. Principals, however, do share the attitude that their role in professional development is one of the most significant tasks in their principalship. Recommendations include strengthening the method and protocols of PDAS; restructuring the PDAS framework to include more collaboration and the ability to tailor it to meet the needs of teachers; build a stronger relationship with local universities to increase access to professional development opportunities; for principals to include teachers in the creation and implementation of staff development; and to conduct a similar, large-scale survey in other parts of the state and/or other states where teacher evaluations and professional development are mandated. These recommendations are in alignment with the Texas Education Agency’s idea that the purpose of PDAS is to improve student performance through the professional development of teachers. These ideas are not revolutionary, yet there is a disparity that continues between theory and practice, and it is toward the resolution of this inconsistency that the recommendations are proposed to support.