Mary Stadick Smith, SD Department of Education's Operations and Information Director, speaks about the department's plan for assessment for the 2013-14 school year.

Districts will have flexibility to use alternate teacher evaluation systems

The South Dakota Board of Education has passed rules that would provide school districts flexibility to use their own teacher evaluation systems, as long as those systems align with the South Dakota standards for teaching, are research based, and include a valid measure of student growth.

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Standards, model effectiveness system for principals developed

This story is the first in a series on the continuing development of South Dakota’s model principal effectiveness system. Next month, we will focus on measures of student growth and in December, we will talk to educators who are implementing the system this year as part of a pilot program.

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, South Dakota public school districts will be required to have principal effectiveness systems in place. Several work groups, including the South Dakota Commission on Teaching and Learning (CTL), have been involved in developing standards for principals, as well as a model evaluation system. The model system meets ESEA flexibility requirements and encourages meaningful evaluation and development of effective leadership.

Standards for Principal Effectiveness

Beginning in the summer of 2012, a work group began developing a framework for evaluating principal effectiveness. The South Dakota Framework for Effective Principals includes six domains and 22 performance components. These domains include both those pieces of a principal’s job that surround instructional leadership and school improvement, as well as those duties related to the daily management and operation of a school.

The domains of the framework include:
1. Vision and Goals
2. Instructional Leadership
3. School Operations and Resources
4. School, Student and Staff Safety
5. School and Community Relationship
6. Ethical and Cultural Leadership

Principal Effectiveness Model
The purpose of the principal evaluation system is to:
1. Foster continuous improvement by improving school practices and educator effectiveness with the result of improved student success.

2. Foster principals’ professional growth and accountability to enhance their skills and knowledge with the result of improved student success.

3. Provide a record of facts and assessment for personnel decisions to ensure every school in South Dakota has an effective principal.

The model evaluation system recognizes that principals are capacity builders who help to facilitate meaningful school improvement and student learning. The system is designed to help evaluate principals as learning-focused leaders who are able to build a positive learning community with high quality teachers, enabling students to achieve at high levels.

Under the model system, South Dakota principals will receive both a professional practice rating and a student growth rating. The two separate ratings are combined using a summative rating matrix. This tool provides the opportunity for evaluators to exercise professional judgment prior to classifying principal performance into one of three categories (Below Expectations, Meets Expectations, Above Expectations).

This method of combining the two ratings does not rely on a uniform formula to calculate a summative effectiveness rating. Instead, the method prioritizes professional practices based on standards developed by the work groups (South Dakota Framework for Effective Principals), while also incorporating the evaluation of student growth as one significant factor.

Evaluations serve as a basis for developing individual professional growth plans focused on school improvement and student achievement.

Click here to view graphic summary.


The professional practice rating of the evaluation is based on the South Dakota Framework for Effective Principals. Evaluations may be supported by evidence gathered through formal observation and by other evidence demonstrating performance relative to principal standards.


Quantitative measures of student growth are the other significant factor in determining principal effectiveness. Data from the state standardized assessments and accountability systems (eg., Annual Measurable Objectives, or AMOs, and School Performance Index, or SPI, scores) must be one of the quantitative measures used to evaluate principal performance at schools in which state testing occurs.

Other measures also may be used as part of the student growth rating. In particular, the model focuses on Student Learning Objectives. A principal would be evaluated based on his or her teachers’ success in helping their students meet SLOs. SLOs serve as the foundation for evaluating a teacher’s impact on student growth. SLOs reflect a rigorous, yet realistic expectation of student growth that can be achieved during the instructional period.


The model principal effectiveness system includes recommended observation schedules. The following covers principals in years one through four of continuous employment:

• A minimum of two formal observations of professional practice per year, including at least one staff meeting
   º One observation should be completed prior to Nov. 30 and a second completed prior to Feb. 15

• A minimum of three informal observations per year
   º One informal observation should be completed prior to the first formal observation, with the remainder delivered throughout the year

The observation schedule for principals in their fourth contract year and beyond is as follows:

• A minimum of one formal observation of professional practice per year, including at least one staff meeting
   º A minimum of three informal observations per year

To learn more about the model principal effectiveness system being piloted this year, view the South Dakota Principal Effectiveness Handbook.

Contact Carla Leingang with any questions.