Improving School Leadership through Support, Evaluation, and Incentives: The Pittsburgh Principal Incentive Program

Improving School Leadership through Support, Evaluation, and Incentives: The Pittsburgh Principal Incentive Program

Improving School Leadership through Support, Evaluation, and Incentives: The Pittsburgh Principal Incentive Program

Improving School Leadership through Support, Evaluation, and Incentives: The Pittsburgh Principal Incentive Program

Excerpt

The quality of leadership provided by a school’s principal is widely regarded as an important contributor to the quality of teaching and learning in the school (Hallinger and Heck, 1996; Knapp et al., 2003; Leithwood et al., 2004; Lachat and Smith, 2005; Darling-Hammond et al., 2007; Grissom and Loeb, 2009). As school districts across the United States seek to improve the performance of their schools, the preparation and effectiveness of principals are key considerations, and states and districts have adopted policies that are intended to improve principal recruitment, professional development, and evaluation (Augustine et al., 2009). These efforts accelerated in response to federal initiatives, such as Race to the Top, which incentivized states to undertake certain reforms, including revamping teacher and principal evaluation systems.

In 2007, the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) received funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) program to adopt a set of reforms designed to improve the quality of leadership provided by the district’s principals. The resulting program, the Pittsburgh Urban Leadership System for Excellence (PULSE) initiative, represents a multifaceted approach to improving school leadership and student learning throughout the district.1 A key component of PULSE is the Pittsburgh Principal Incentive Program (PPIP), a system of evaluation and performance-based compensation through which the district provides principals with support, assistance, and performance-based financial awards tied to measures of practices and student achievement growth. PULSE and PPIP reflect a growing research-based understanding of the critical role that principal leadership plays in districts’ efforts to improve student achievement.

PPIP includes a set of capacity-building interventions that are intended to improve student achievement through a causal pathway that starts with the improvement of the quality of instructional leadership provided by principals. These capacity-building interventions include professional development to improve leadership, evaluation and . . .

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