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Evaluation Standards and Criteria: School Executives

Policy TitleEvaluation Standards and Criteria: School Executives
Policy CategoryEvaluations & Qualifications (EVAL)
Policy IDEVAL-030
Policy Date2016-04-07
Previous Policy Dates05/08/1998, 01/13/1999, 11/02/2006, 12/07/2006, 06/07/2007, 09/06/2007, 12/04/2008, 06/30/2010, 06/02/2011, 08/04/2011, 03/01/2012, 04/05/2012, 10/04/2012, 04/04/2013, 10/03/2013, 12/03/2015

Formerly TCP-C-006


Standards for Principal and Assistant Principal Evaluation

A New Vision of School Leadership

Public education’s changed mission dictates the need for a new type of school leader -- an executive instead of an administrator.  No longer are school leaders just maintaining the status quo by managing complex operations but just like their colleagues in business, they must be able to create schools as organizations that can learn and change quickly if they are to improve performance.  Schools need executives who are adept at creating systems for change and at building relationships with and across staff that not only tap into the collective knowledge and insight they possess but powerful relationships that also stir their passions for their work with children. Out of these relationships the executive must create among staff a common shared understanding for the purpose of the work of the school, its values that direct its action, and commitment and ownership of a set of beliefs and goals that focus everyone’s decision making.  The staff’s common understanding of the school’s identity empowers them to seek and build powerful alliances and partnerships with students, parents and community stakeholders in order to enhance their ability to produce increased student achievement.  The successful work of the new executive will only be realized in the creation of a culture in which leadership is distributed and encouraged with teachers, which consists of open, honest communication, which is focused on the use of data, teamwork, research-based best practices, and which uses modern tools to drive ethical and principled, goal-oriented action. This culture of disciplined thought and action is rooted in the ability of the relationships among all stakeholders to build a trusting, transparent environment that reduces all stakeholders’ sense of vulnerability as they address the challenges of transformational change.

Philosophical Foundation for the School Executive Standards

The following points underlie this work:


  • Today schools must have proactive school executives who possess a great sense of urgency.
  • The goal of school leadership is to transform schools so that large-scale, sustainable, continuous improvement becomes built in to their mode of operation.
  • The moral purpose of school leadership is to create schools in which all students learn, the gap between high and low performance is greatly diminished and what students learn will prepare them for success in their futures, not ours.
  • Leadership is not a position or a person.  It is a practice that must be embedded in all job roles at all levels of the school district.
  • The work of leadership is about working with, for and through people.  It is a social act.  Whether we are discussing instructional leadership, change leadership or leadership as learning, people are always the medium for the leader.  
  • Leadership is not about doing everything oneself but it is always about creating processes and systems that will cause everything to happen.
  • Leadership is about the executive’s ability to select and develop a strong executive staff whose complementary strengths promote excellence in all seven functions of leadership identified in this document.
  • The concept of leadership is extremely complex and systemic in nature.  Isolating the parts of leadership completely misses the power of the whole.  It is not just knowing what to do, but why to do it, how to do it and when to do it.
  • Within a school district there are nested leadership systems (local boards of education, central office, school, and classroom).  For the organization to be successful these systems must be aligned and supportive, and function as a team.
  • Leadership is about setting direction, aligning and motivating people to implement positive sustained improvement.
  • Leaders bring their “person” to the practice of leadership.  Matching the context of leadership to the “person” of the individual is important to the success of the leader.

Intended Purposes of the Standards

The North Carolina School Executive Standards have been developed as a guide for principals and assistant principals as they continually reflect upon and improve their effectiveness as leaders throughout all of the stages of their careers.  Although there are many influences on a school executive’s development, these standards will serve as an important tool for principals and assistant principals as they consider their growth and development as executives leading schools in the 21st century.  Taken as a whole these standards, practices and competencies are overwhelming.  One might ask, “How can one person possess all of these?”  The answer is they cannot. It is, therefore, imperative that a school executive understands the importance of building an executive team that has complementary skills.  The more diversity that exists on the team the more likely the team will be to demonstrate high performance in all critical function areas.  The main responsibility of the school executive is to create aligned systems of leadership throughout the school and its community.

In addition, these standards will serve other audiences and purposes.  These standards will:


  • Inform higher education programs in developing the content and requirements of school executive degree programs;
  • Focus the goals and objectives of districts as they support, monitor and evaluate their school executives;
  • Guide professional development for school executives;
  • Serve as a tool in developing coaching and mentoring programs for school executives.

Organization of the Standards

Each standard is formatted as follows:


  • Standard:  The standard is the broad category of the executive’s knowledge and skills;
  • Summary:  The summary more fully describes the content and rationale of each Standard;
  • Practices:  The practices are statements of what one would see an effective executive doing in each Standard;
  • Artifacts:  The artifacts are evidence of the quality of the executive’s work or places where evidence can be found in each Standard.  Collectively they could be the components of a performance portfolio.  The lists of artifacts are not meant to be exhaustive.
  • Competencies:   Although not articulated there are many obvious competencies inherent in the practices of each critical leadership function.  This document concludes with a list of those competencies which may not be obvious but that support practice in multiple leadership functions. 

The Seven Standards of Executive Leadership and Their Connection


The seven critical standards used as the framework for the North Carolina School Executive Standards are borrowed from a Wallace Foundation study, Making Sense of Leading Schools: A Study of the School Principalship (2003). Unlike many current efforts that look at all of the things principals “might” or “should” do, this study examined what principals actually do. As such, it is grounded in practice, exploits story and narrative, and supports the distribution of leadership rather than the “hero leader.” 

North Carolina’s Standards for School Executives are interrelated and connect in executives’ practice.  They are not intended to isolate competencies or practices.  Executives’ abilities in each standard will impact their ability to perform effectively in other standard areas.  For example, the ability of an executive to evaluate and develop staff will directly impact the school’s ability to reach its goals and will also impact the norms of the culture of the school.

School executives are responsible for ensuring that leadership happens in all seven critical areas, but they don’t have to provide it. 

The seven standards and their practices are:


Summary:  School executives will create conditions that result in strategically re-imaging the school’s vision, mission, and goals in the 21st century. Understanding that schools ideally prepare students for an unseen but not altogether unpredictable future, the leader creates a climate of inquiry that challenges the school community to continually re-purpose itself by building on its core values and beliefs about its preferred future and then developing a pathway to reach it.  

The school executive practices effective strategic leadership when he or she


  • Is able to share a vision of the changing world in the 21st century that schools are preparing children to enter;
  • Systematically challenges the status quo by leading change with potentially beneficial outcomes;
  • Systematically considers new ways of accomplishing tasks and is comfortable with major changes in how processes are implemented;
  • Utilizes data from the NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey in developing the framework for continual improvement in the School Improvement Plan;
  • Is a driving force behind major initiatives that help students acquire 21st century skills;
  • Creates with all stakeholders a vision for the school that captures peoples’ attention and imagination;
  • Creates processes that provide for the periodic review and revision of the school’s vision, mission, and strategic goals by all school stakeholders;
  • Creates processes to ensure the school’s identity (vision, mission, values, beliefs and goals) actually drive decisions and inform the culture of the school;
  • Adheres to statutory requirements regarding the School Improvement Plan;
  • Facilitates the collaborative development of annual school improvement plans to realize strategic goals and objectives;
  • Facilitates the successful execution of the school improvement plan aligned to the mission and goals set by the State Board of Education;
  • Facilitates the implementation of state education policy inside the school’s classrooms;
  • Facilitates the setting of high, concrete goals and the expectations that all students meet them;
  • Communicates strong professional beliefs about schools, teaching, and learning that reflect latest research and best practice in preparing students for success in college or in work;
  • Creates processes to distribute leadership throughout the school.



  • Degree to which school improvement plan strategies are implemented, assessed and modified
  • Evidence of an effectively functioning, elected School Improvement Team
  • NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey
  • School improvement plan, its alignment with district and state strategic priorities, and a plan for growth on items of concern as evidenced in the NC TWC Survey
  • The degree to which staff can articulate the school’s direction and focus
  • Student testing data


Summary:  School executives will set high standards for the professional practice of 21st century instruction and assessment that result in a no nonsense accountable environment.  The school executive must be knowledgeable of best instructional and school practices and must use this knowledge to cause the creation of collaborative structures within the school for the design of highly engaging schoolwork for students, the on-going peer review of this work and the sharing of this work throughout the professional community.   

The school executive practices effective instructional leadership when he or she


  • Focuses his or her own and others’ attention persistently and publicly on learning and teaching by initiating and guiding conversations about instruction and student learning that are oriented towards high expectations and concrete goals;
  • Creates an environment of practiced distributive leadership and teacher empowerment;
  • Demonstrates knowledge of 21st century curriculum, instruction, and assessment by leading or participating in meetings with teachers and parents where these topics are discussed, and/or holding frequent formal or informal conversations with students, staff and parents around these topics;
  • Ensures that there is an appropriate and logical alignment between the curriculum of the school and the state’s accountability program;
  • Creates processes and schedules that facilitate the collaborative (team) design, sharing, evaluation, and archiving of rigorous, relevant, and engaging  instructional lessons that ensure students acquire essential knowledge;
  • Challenges staff to reflect deeply on and define what knowledge, skills and concepts are essential to the complete educational development of students;
  • Creates processes for collecting and using student test data and other formative data from other sources for the improvement of instruction;
  • Creates processes for identifying, benchmarking and providing students access to a variety of 21st century instructional tools (e.g., technology) and best practices for meeting diverse student needs;
  • Creates processes that ensure the strategic allocation and use of resources to meet instructional goals and support teacher needs;
  • Creates processes to provide formal feedback to teachers concerning the effectiveness of their classroom instruction;
  • Creates processes that protect teachers from issues and influences that would detract from their instructional time;
  • Systematically and frequently observes in classrooms and engages in conversation with students about their learning.



  • School improvement plan
  • NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey
  • Student achievement data
  • Dropout data
  • Teacher retention data
  • Documented use of formative assessment instruments to impact instruction
  • Development and communication of goal-oriented personalized education plans for identified students (ESOL, exceptional children, Level I and Level II children)
  • Evidence of the team development and evaluation of classroom lessons


Summary:  School executives will understand and act on the understanding of the important role a school’s culture contributes to the exemplary performance of the school.  School executives must support and value the traditions, artifacts, symbols and positive values and norms of the school and community that result in a sense of identity and pride upon which to build a positive future.  A school executive must be able to “reculture” the school if needed to align with school’s goals of improving student and adult learning and to infuse the work of the adults and students with passion, meaning and purpose.  Cultural leadership implies understanding the school as the people in it each day, how they came to their current state, and how to connect with their traditions in order to move them forward to support the school’s efforts to achieve individual and collective goals.

The school executive practices effective cultural leadership when he or she


  • Creates a collaborative work environment predicated on site-based management that supports the “team” as the basic unit of learning and decision-making within the school and promotes cohesion and cooperation among staff;
  • Communicates strong ideals and beliefs about schooling, teaching, and professional learning communities with teachers, staff, parents, and students and then operates from those beliefs;
  • Influences the evolution of the culture to support the continuous improvement of the school as outlined in the school improvement plan;
  • Systematically develops and uses shared values, beliefs and a shared vision to establish a school identity that emphasizes a sense of community and cooperation to guide the disciplined thought and action of all staff and students;
  • Systematically and fairly acknowledges failures and celebrates accomplishments of the school and staff;
  • Visibly supports the positive, culturally-responsive traditions of the school community;
  • Promotes a sense of well-being among staff, students and parents;
  • Builds a sense of efficacy and empowerment among staff that result in a “can do” attitude when faced with challenges;
  • Empowers staff to recommend creative 21st century concepts for school improvement 



  • Work of Professional Learning Communities within and tangential to the school
  • Documented use of the SIT in decision-making throughout the year
  • NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey
  • School improvement plan
  • Teacher retention data
  • Student achievement data
  • Awards structure developed by school 


Summary:  School executives will ensure that the school is a professional learning community.  School executives will ensure that processes and systems are in place that results in the recruitment, induction, support, evaluation, development and retention of a high performing staff.  The school executive must engage and empower accomplished teachers in a distributive leadership manner, including support of teachers in day-to-day decisions such as discipline, communication with parents, and protecting teachers from duties that interfere with teaching, and must practice fair and consistent evaluation of teachers.  The school executive must engage teachers and other professional staff in conversations to plan their career paths and support district succession planning.

The school executive practices effective human resource leadership when he or she 


  • Provides structures for the development of effective professional learning communities aligned with the school improvement plan, focused on results, and characterized by collective responsibility for instructional planning and for 21st century student learning;
  • Models the importance of continued adult learning by engaging in activities to develop personal knowledge and skill along with expanded self – awareness; 
  • Communicates a positive attitude about the ability of staff to accomplish substantial outcomes to improve their efficacy;
  • Creates processes for teachers to assume leadership and decision making roles within the school that foster their career development;
  • Creates and monitors processes for hiring, inducting and mentoring new teachers and other staff to the school;
  • Uses the results of the Teacher Working Conditions Survey to create and maintain a positive work environment for teachers and other staff;
  • Evaluates teachers and other staff in a fair and equitable manner and utilizes the results of evaluations to improve performance;
  • Provides for results-oriented professional development that is aligned with identified 21st century curricular, instructional, and assessment needs, is connected to school improvement goals and is differentiated based on staff needs;
  • Continuously searches for the best placement and utilization of staff to fully benefit from their strengths;
  • Is systematically and personally involved in the school’s professional activities.



  • School improvement plan
  • NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey – with special emphasis on the leadership and empowerment domains
  • Copy of master school schedule documenting the time provided for individual and collaborative planning for every teacher
  • Number of National Board Certified teachers
  • Teacher retention data
  • Number of teachers pursuing school executive credentials, National Board Certification, or advanced licensure in their teaching areas
  • Records of school visits for the purpose of adult learning
  • Record of professional development provided staff and an assessment of the impact of professional development on student learning
  • Mentor records, beginning teacher feedback, and documentation of correlation of assignment of mentor to mentee
  • Copies of professional growth plans
  • Student achievement data 


Summary:  School executives will ensure that the school has processes and systems in place for budgeting, staffing, problem solving, communicating expectations and scheduling that result in organizing the work routines in the building.  The school executive must be responsible for the monitoring of the school budget and the inclusion of all teachers in the budget decisions so as to meet the 21st century needs of every classroom.  Effectively and efficiently managing the complexity of every day life is critical for staff to be able to focus its energy on improvement.

The school executive practices effective managerial leadership when he or she


  • Creates processes to provide for a balanced operational budget for school programs and activities
  • Creates processes to recruit and retain a high-quality workforce in the school that meets the diverse needs of students; 
  • Creates processes to identify and solve, resolve, dissolve or absolve school-based problems/conflicts in a fair, democratic way; 
  • Designs a system of communication that provides for the timely, responsible sharing of information to, from, and with school and district staff;
  • Designs scheduling processes and protocols that maximize staff input and addresses diverse student learning needs;
  • Develops a master schedule for the school to maximize student learning by providing for individual and on-going collaborative planning for every teacher;
  • Collaboratively develops and enforces clear expectations, structures, rules and procedures for students and staff.



  • NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey
  • School Improvement Plan
  • External reviews, such as budget
  • Copies of master schedules/procedures
  • Communication of safety procedures and behavioral expectations throughout the school community


Summary:  A school executive will design structures and processes that result in community engagement, support, and ownership. Acknowledging that schools no longer reflect but in fact build community, the leader proactively creates with staff opportunities for parents, community and business representatives to participate as “stockholders” in the school such that continued investments of resources and good will are not left to chance. 

The school executive practices effective external development leadership when he or she


  • Implements processes that empower parents and other stakeholders to make significant decisions;
  • Creates systems that engage all community stakeholders in a shared responsibility for student and school success;
  • Designs protocols and processes that ensures compliance with state and district mandates;
  • Creates opportunities to advocate for the school in the community and with parents;
  • Communicates the school’s accomplishments to the district office and public media in accordance with LEA policies;
  • Garners fiscal, intellectual and human resources from the community that support the 21st century learning agenda of the school;
  • Builds relationships with individuals and groups to support specific aspects of the learning improvement agenda and also as a source of general good will.



  • PTSA participation
  • PTSA meeting agendas, bulletins, etc.
  • Parent attendance at school improvement team meetings
  • Survey results from parents
  • Evidence of visible support from community
  • Booster club participation
  • Number of school volunteers
  • Plan for shaping the school’s image throughout the community
  • PTSA membership
  • Evidence of business partnerships and projects involving business partners


Summary:  The school executive will build systems and relationships that utilize the staff’s diversity, encourage constructive ideological conflict in order to leverage staff expertise, power and influence to realize the school’s vision for success.  The executive will also creatively employ an awareness of staff’s professional needs, issues, and interests to build social cohesion and to facilitate distributed governance and shared decision-making.

The school executive practices effective micropolitical leadership when he or she


  • Uses the School Improvement Team to make decisions and provides opportunities for staff to be involved in developing school policies;
  • Creates an environment and mechanisms to ensure all internal stakeholder voices are heard and respected;
  • Creates processes and protocols to buffer and mediate staff interests;
  • Is easily accessible to teachers and staff;
  • Designs transparent systems to equitably manage human and financial resources;
  • Demonstrates sensitivity to personal needs of  staff;
  • Demonstrates awareness of informal groups and relationships among school staff and utilizes these as a positive resource;
  • Demonstrates awareness of hidden and potentially discordant issues in the school;
  • Encourages people to express opinions contrary to those of authority;
  • Demonstrates ability to predict what could go wrong from day to day;
  • Uses performance as the primary criterion for reward and advancement;
  • Maintains high visibility throughout the school;
  • Maintains open, vertical and horizontal communications throughout the school community. 



  • NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey
  • Teacher retention data
  • Dissemination of clear norms and ground rules
  • Evidence of ability to confront ideological conflict and then reach consensus
  • Evidence of shared decision-making
  • Evidence of use of a decision matrix
  • Evidence of a school that operates through teams
  • Evidence of distributed leadership


Summary: School executives will contribute to the academic success of students.  The work of the school executive will result in acceptable, measurable progress for students based on established performance expectations using appropriate data to demonstrate growth. It is the intent of the State Board of Education to provide educators a state-wide, standardized measure of student growth for the purpose of promoting professional growth for educators, guiding school improvement efforts, and informing educator evaluation processes.

Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, School Growth will no longer be a formal standard in the NC principal evaluation process.  All processes related to the determination of student growth estimates for teachers and schools will continue but School Growth will no longer factor into an administrator’s overall effectiveness status.

An executive’s rating on School Growth is determined by a school-wide student growth value as calculated by the statewide growth model for educator effectiveness.  For the purposes of determining the eighth standard rating, the school-wide growth value includes data from the measures of student learning - End-of-Course assessments, End-of-Grade assessments, Career and Technical Education Post-Assessments, NC Final Exams, K-3 Checkpoints, and Analysis of Student Work.  Districts may also use other assessments to measure student learning and include them in the eighth standard rating if the State Board of Education approves those assessments.  The End-of-Grade assessments and End-of-Course assessments must be used for courses and grades/subjects in which they are administered.

The student growth value for a school places an executive into one of three rating categories:

Does not meet expected growth: the school-wide student growth value for is lower than what was expected per the statewide growth model.

Meets expected growth: the school-wide student growth value is what was expected per the statewide growth model.

Exceeds expected growth: the school-wide student growth value exceeds what was expected per the statewide growth model.

All local school boards shall use student growth values for schools generated through a method approved by the State Board of Education.


School Executive effectiveness ratings will continue to be reported at the district and state levels.A highly effective administrator is one who receives a rating of at least “accomplished” on each of the Principal Evaluation Standards 1 – 7 of the Principal Evaluation Instrument.

An effective administrator is one who receives a rating of at least “proficient” on each of the Principal Evaluation Standards 1 – 7  the School Growth measure.

An administrator in need of improvement is one who fails to receive a rating of at least “proficient” on each of the Principal Evaluation Standards 1 – 7  the School Growth measure.

For school systems using the state effectiveness model, only student growth values based on the students taught in a school executive’s specific school will be used to determine the three-year rolling average for that administrator.  A three-year rolling average of student growth values shall be used in determining School Growth. 

Administrators with school-specific student growth values for the 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15 school years will receive a status in the fall of 2015 based on their summative ratings on Standards 1 – 7 in 2014-15 and a Standard 8 rating based on the average of the highest two of three student growth values from those years. 

After the first statuses awarded in the fall of 2015, a three-year rolling average will be used to calculate the School Growth measure.

If a district has elected to determine School Growth with a local option plan approved by the State Board of Education, the district will determine the measures and the data required for an effectiveness status.  At a minimum, the school administrator’s evaluation must include data generated from student growth values determined through End-of-Grade assessments and End-of-Course assessments administered in his/her school.

Any State Board of Education-mandated steps for improvement based on an administrator’s status of “in need of improvement” are delayed until a status is assigned in the fall of 2016.


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