How California's Local Education Agencies Evaluate Teachers and Principals

Primary Researchers: Melissa Eiler White, Reino Makkonen

Publication Date: March 2012


One of the requirements of the 2009 State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) program was that states collect data from all local education agencies (LEAs) on their current teacher and principal evaluation practices. In response to this requirement, California’s Department of Education (CDE) created a survey that was sent to all LEAs during summer 2010. Over 99 percent of LEAs returned the survey.

Knowing that it would be helpful to have an analysis of those data in a summary report not only to their own agencies but also other key California decision makers interested in teacher and principal reform, both the CDE and the Integrated Leadership Development Initiative (ILDI), of which CDE is a part, specifically requested that REL West provide an analysis and summary report of the survey results.

Four research questions guided this analysis of the California survey data:

  1. How did local education agencies describe their teacher and principal evaluation systems?
  2. To what extent did local education agencies report that student achievement outcomes or student growth data were used in evaluating the performance of teachers and principals? How did the responses of districts differ from those of direct-funded charter schools?
  3. To what extent did local education agencies report using evaluation results to inform personnel decisions for teachers and principals? How did the responses of districts differ from those of direct-funded charter schools?
  4. To what extent did local education agencies report using evaluation results to distinguish teachers and principals across multiple rating categories?

The key findings indicate that:

  • Sixty-one percent of the 1,482 responding local education agencies indicated that their teacher evaluation systems are based on the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.
  • Forty-one percent reported that their local school board approves their teacher evaluation system; 64 percent reported that their local school board approves their principal evaluation system.
  • For teacher evaluation, 57 percent reported using student achievement outcomes or growth data as partial or primary evidence; for principal evaluation, 79 percent reported using these data.
  • Published: March 2012
  • Research Type: Technical Brief
  • Methodologies: Survey Research
  • Contact info:
    Reino Makkonen (415) 615-3356


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