The release of the first-ever Principal Supervisor Performance Standards, created by the University of Washington’s District Leadership Design Lab (DL2), promises to help school systems across the nation strengthen the quality of teaching for all students.

The standards describe specific principal supervisor practices in six areas that research associates with increased support for principals’ growth as instructional leaders and principals’ engagement in progressively more challenging instructional leadership activities. These standards reflect a growing recognition that school principals provide critical support for improving teaching and learning for all students—and the importance of principal supervisors as a key partner in principal success.

DL2 created the standards to help districts understand and use the emerging research base on principal supervision and to help improve how districts support the success of their school principals.

“Our research provided a rigorous, in depth look at how principal supervisors can be crucial parts of a system of support for principal success. And then many districts asked us for help with using the research to inform their work,” said Associate Professor and DL2 Director Meredith Honig. “We developed the standards as one of many tools and strategies to help districts translate the research into practice.”

The Principal Supervisor Performance Standards encompass how principal supervisors:
- spend their time to help principals grow as instructional leaders
- work one-on-one with principals
- lead principal networks, or communities of practice
- collect and use evidence to differentiate their work with principals
- use the formal evaluation process to support principal learning
- engage with the rest of the central office

“We know that principals can have a powerful influence on teaching and learning,” said David Steinberg, director of the Department of Professional Growth Systems at Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. “Now the District Leadership Design Lab at the University of Washington has developed a set of research-based standards and practical hands-on tools that enable principals’ supervisors to coach principals in becoming highly effective instructional leaders who make a real difference in the lives of teachers and students.”

Highline Public Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield said, “School systems cannot ensure quality teaching without quality leadership. Just as teachers need support and clear standards for performance, so, too, do principals and their supervisors. Until now, the critical role that principal supervisors play in helping school staff engage in high quality teaching and learning has received little attention. DL2's new standards will help district leaders identify and support the right leaders for this role. The end result will be higher performing school systems, which every student deserves.”

The standards are part of the broader Principal Supervisor 360 — a performance management system for principal supervisors created by DL2 — that also includes survey and observation instruments to help districts measure the progress of their principal supervisors along the standards.

The foundational research for Principal Supervisor 360 included a rigorous analysis of how three districts were engaged in major reforms of their school district central offices to support the improvement of teaching and learning for all students. Both the research and Principal Supervisor 360 were developed by UW faculty and students with support from The Wallace Foundation.

In December 2015, the Council of Chief State School Officers released its Model Principal Supervisor Professional Standards, which are rooted in the Principal Supervisor Performance Standards developed by DL2.

“We hope our standards — the original core set and those incorporated into the recently-released ISLLC standards — help focus more attention on the important relationship between the school principal and their supervisor for realizing excellent teaching and learning for each and every student,” Honig said.

DL2 was created in 2014 to help district leaders understand and use the latest knowledge in the field to improve how their central offices support schools in helping all students be successful. DL2 realizes this mission by conducting rigorous research and developing state-of-the-art tools and learning experiences to help leaders use the latest knowledge to push the field forward. DL2 partners closely with school systems and their on-site partners in these efforts.

Note: This story was updated Dec. 9, 2015 following release of the CCSSO Model Principal Supervisor Professional Standards.


Principal Supervisor Performance Standards
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Lydia Rainey, Director of Research, DL2

Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications