www.gae.org | 9 I began my teaching career in Georgia under the old GTEP (Georgia Teachers Evaluation Program) system, in which I was either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. What did this really mean? How could I grow as a professional from the old, dichotomous evaluation system? Conversations with administrators were not deep and feedback was either nonexistent or shallow. The old system didn’t work for either teachers or leaders; hence, I believe LKES and TKES have ushered in a positive change in Georgia education. Teacher Keys has led the transformation of teacher evaluation and many pieces of the evaluation tool are good. A school leader deserves a fair, comprehensive evaluation system just as classroom teachers. This accountability piece helps to ensure leaders are moving the school closer to the goals of higher student achievement, warmer and more positive school climates, and a closer focus on teaching and learning. The Leader Keys Effective System (LKES) is an extensive and deep evaluation system which facilitates critical conversations as well as the adoption of specific goals and implementation plans. Although in Gwinnett County we use a slightly different system, many LKES characteristics parallel nicely with our system. This sea change in leader evaluation has called into question: in what standards are we exemplary and what areas need development? It is no secret the important role a principal plays in moving students to a higher level. Research clearly shows the building principal as being the second most influential person in a school. But, how do we as leaders positively impact students if we don’t have baseline data, goals based on quantitative data, and evaluations tied to student achievement and other documented outcomes? I would argue LKES provides this much needed outcome-based evaluation system. Further, a piece of the leader’s evaluation is based on student achievement scores. Some leaders may be uneasy with this idea, but I argue leaders must be held accountable for what is happening in the classroom just as much as the classroom teacher. The inclusion of student achievement in the leader’s evaluation should motivate school leaders to know their fellow educators, monitor expectations, and develop faculty in professional development focused on areas of growth. What does the leader of a school do in order to facilitate needed change to move student achievement? Evidence based decisions, a commitment to continuous quality improvement, and collaboration among stakeholders certainly offer ways for leaders to influence positive and impactful change. Again, LKES helps provides evidence and holds principals accountable for the effective, research-based leader practices. The purpose of LKES is to measure the effectiveness of both principals and assistant principals in moving student achievement, school climate, and the school management in a positive direction. As this is what schools are responsible for, I would suggest a robust evaluation system should in fact comprise these three umbrellas. The eight domains of LKES identified by Georgia Department of Education include the knowledge, skills, and actions of the effective principal: instructional leadership, school climate, planning and assessment, organizational management, human resources management, teacher/staff evaluation, professionalism, and communication and community relations. Also included in the leader evaluation system are school climate survey ratings, student attendance data, teacher retention rates, student academic achievement, and student academic growth. Is the evaluation process time consuming and comprehensive? Yes, absolutely. The process and system may not be easy, but does it produce results that focus on what is best for students? I claim it certainly offers great possibilities. Through my experience, the time dedicated to both TKES and LKES has opened the door to in-depth conversation that has positively impacted curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The leader effectiveness annual evaluation process is similar to that of the teacher effectiveness process. Those individuals in charge of evaluations are trained and must receive their credentials each year – these professional development opportunities are typically offered through on-line modules. The official evaluation process begins with an orientation and a self-assessment. A pre-evaluation conference includes the establishment of performance goals based on baseline data. The pre-evaluation conference and self-assessment really force the leader to probe and ask questions. If the evaluator A SCHOOL LEADER DESERVES A FAIR, COMPREHENSIVE EVALUATION SYSTEM JUST AS CLASSROOM TEACHERS. THIS ACCOUNTABILITY PIECE HELPS TO ENSURE LEADERS ARE MOVING THE SCHOOL CLOSER TO THE GOAL OF HIGHER STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT, WARMER AND MORE POSITIVE SCHOOL CLIMATES, AND A CLOSER FOCUS ON TEACHING AND LEARNING.
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