Publications and Reports

CTAC’s reports focus on cutting edge issues in education and community development. Our research and evaluation studies inform practice and guide policy decision-making at local, state and national levels.

Principal Leadership at a Challenging Time: An Evaluation of the Missouri Leadership Development System

The Region 12 Comprehensive Center conducted an evaluation of the Missouri Leadership Development System (MLDS) to examine the perceptions of participants and help the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education learn from educators across the state about the implementation of the program, both preceding and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary purpose of MLDS is to develop and nurture effective school leaders throughout the state. MLDS supports principals at four levels, from Aspiring (pre-certificated), to Emerging (initial career entry), to Developing (practicing), and ultimately to the Transformational Principal.

The report indicates that dominant recommendation by principals, superintendents, and specialists is to build on current program strengths and extend customized services that address emerging, pandemic-related needs. Data from both interviews and survey responses show clearly that the first year of full implementation of the program was well-received by the field, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report identifies key issues and provides recommendations for making targeted refinements to MLDS.

Preparing Tomorrow’s Principals Today: A Formative Review of the Missouri Leadership Development System

CTAC conducted an independent, formative review of the Missouri Leadership Development System (MLDS) to learn from educators regarding the implementation of MLDS and to support the state in making evidence-based refinements to the program. The primary goal of MLDS is to develop and support effective school leaders throughout the state at each level of experience in their career—from Aspiring (pre-certificated), to Emerging (initial career entry), through Developing (practicing), and ultimately to the Transformational Principal. The report examines and presents perceptions of program participants of the MLDS competencies, learning experiences, and treatments in strengthening their practice and improving student learning, factors enhancing or impeding the progress of implementation, and benefits and value. It also identifies key issues and provides recommendations for making targeted refinements to the program. This report was made possible by the support of the Central Comprehensive Center.

Next Steps Forward: Teacher and School-Based Administrator Evaluation System

Prepared for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS), the Howard County Education Association, and the Howard County Administrators Association, this report examines the fidelity of implementation of the teacher and school-based administrator evaluation system in Howard County, Maryland. It presents overall perceptions of the evaluation system; the quality, consistency, and manageability of implementation; and capacity building needs. Recommendations provide HCPSS with an actionable pathway for making continuing improvements to reinforce the instructional emphasis of educator evaluation.

Getting the Pieces Right: Professional Development, Compensation, and School-Wide Performance

Getting the Pieces Right is the study of the Teacher Incentive Performance Award (TIPA) initiative in Virginia’s Prince William County Public Schools. A $10.9 million, five-year program supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund, TIPA sought to increase student achievement in PWCS’s 30 lowest performing schools by focusing intensively on instructional improvement.

Findings show that TIPA led to statistically significant increases in student achievement in all four core subjects analyzed as measured by Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) test results. TIPA’s processes greatly increased collaboration and instructional dialogue among principals and teachers and strengthened the use of data to inform instruction.

This five-year study describes how TIPA provided incentives that fostered collaborative school-wide improvement efforts. The initiative provided “real time,” tailored professional development to teachers and customized leadership development to the 30 TIPA principals. It implemented a performance-based compensation system combining student growth and achievement measures with 23 measures of school effectiveness, such as positive school culture, effective parent engagement, and teacher leadership. And it awarded school-based compensation bonuses, with administrators/teachers in core subjects eligible for the largest awards.

When Educators Learn, Students Learn

When Educators Learn, Students Learn is the final evaluation of the Learning Leaders initiative in Virginia’s Henrico County Public Schools. A $16.5 million, five-year program supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund, Learning Leaders sought to increase student achievement in eight of Henrico’s lowest performing schools by focusing intensively on instructional improvement.

Findings show that average scores on the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) state tests increased in Learning Leaders schools in all four core subjects analyzed. The gains were statistically significant in science and history. The opposite occurred in comparison schools where scores in all four subjects declined. The initiative’s processes greatly increased instructional feedback and reflection, collaborative dialogue among principals and teachers, and the use of data to inform instruction. Both individual educators and entire schools became more effective.

The five-year study describes how Learning Leaders implemented explicit student growth target setting as well as teacher observations that focused on areas of classroom practice with highest payoff for student learning; provided tailored professional development for teachers and administrators—trainings and workshops as well as one-to-one coaching—based on needs revealed by analysis of student data and teacher observations; and implemented a performance-based compensation system that rewarded individual educators.

Stay the Course: Teacher and Principal Evaluation in Maryland

The Maryland State Department of Education is leading and supporting the implementation of a Teacher and Principal Evaluation (TPE) system in all school districts in the state. This report examines the progress Maryland has made during four years of TPE implementation, 2013 to 2016. It includes the direct input of nearly 35% of Maryland’s teachers and principals.

Key findings show educators’ perceptions of TPE are improving as they gain experience implementing all components of the evaluation system; principals and teachers still need support to implement TPE at a high level of effectiveness; and the districts that are making real progress in the consistency of quality implementation are doing so through concerted efforts to build principal and teacher capacity and to align TPE with the instructional framework and priorities of the district.

This report, prepared by CTAC and WestEd through the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center (MACC at WestEd), also includes recommendations which focus on strengthening leadership and further improving implementation at central and school site levels within Maryland’s districts.

Change in Practice in Maryland: SLOs and Teacher and Principal Evaluation

A new comprehensive study shows that Maryland is a national leader in implementing an educator evaluation system statewide.

CTAC and WestEd conducted this study through the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center (MACC at WestEd) to support the Maryland State Department of Education and all of Maryland’s districts.

This report examines the perceptions of frontline educators regarding the support they receive in understanding and implementing the Teacher and Principal Evaluation (TPE) system, and the use of Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) to measure student growth and improve instruction. The study includes the direct input of more than 30% of Maryland’s teachers and principals.

Drawing on three years of data, findings show that TPE implementation is generating changes in practice and perception. With each year of implementation, both principals and teachers are increasingly more positive about TPE.

Recommendations focus on ways to improve the quality, consistency and manageability of implementation within and across districts in Maryland. They are intended to help further inform and strengthen Maryland’s implementation of TPE overall and the SLO component in particular, and broaden the set of supports to frontline educators in the schools.

Real Progress in Maryland: SLOs and Teacher and Principal Evaluation

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is making significant strides in guiding and supporting the implementation of Student Learning Objectives as well as a teacher and principal evaluation (TPE) system statewide. This report examines frontline educators’ overall perceptions of TPE and key issues in implementation, including quality, consistency, and school, district and state support. The more experience frontline educators have with the new evaluation system, the higher their skill and comfort levels are with its implementation and the more their efforts focus on strengthening instruction. This report, which CTAC and WestEd prepared through the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center (MACC at WestEd), also includes recommendations which focus on ways to strengthen implementation within and across districts in Maryland, while reinforcing the instructional emphasis of TPE.

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