How do we Conduct a Principal Performance Review?
When should we hold a review?
The required annual formal review should fit with the time of the annual school operational plan. In general, the evidence gathering should begin no later than 1st October with the formal interview held in November, followed by the immediate drafting of the report which should be presented to the board no later than December. See the performance review timeline for more information. However, performance management is not a one-time event. In addition to the formal annual review mandated by the employment agreement, the delegated board member(s) should hold interim assessments of principal performance each term. These brief assessments can help to address issues as they arise, check that objectives in the performance agreement are appropriate and take action if there is a performance issue.
Who carries out the review?
Decide on delegated board member(s) to carry out the review. Delegations must be written, specific and identify where the delegated responsibility begins and ends.
How do we prepare for the review?
- Ensure the board and principal know the review policy and follow it.
- The performance agreement created at the start of the year should serve as the review form.
- It is useful to ask the principal to perform a self-review in advance, to bring along to the review.
- Also, if at a primary school and the principal is entitled to receive an allowance from the principal career structure, the board should ensure the principal understands they must provide a portfolio of evidence to the board which demonstrates the principal fulfils the criteria. NZSTA has provided some guidelines for principal career structure/portfolio of evidence.
- To make sure the delegated member(s) speaks for the board, it is recommended to have a board meeting in the absence of the principal so members can share their views and knowledge about the principal's performance. Keep notes as these will provide a guideline for filling in the review form.
- The delegated review members should consider the performance agreement prior to the review. Evidence needs to be collected from board members/staff/students/community members regarding the principal's performance. Consult sources of evidence for more information.
- Although the delegated members should look through the performance agreement/review form and may note comments, no ratings or final comments should be given until meeting with the principal and listening to their views.
To make the review interview as productive as possible
- Set aside enough time
- Make sure the room you use is comfortable and that you won't be disturbed
- Open the meeting with positive comments
- Use the performance agreement as a guide throughout the meeting
- Discuss the objectives set for the year and whether they have been achieved
- Review the "portfolio of evidence" prepared by the principal (if a primary school principal)
- Remember that criticism should be constructive
- Agree next steps together
- Make sure the principal understands the next steps regarding their career allowance and/or professional development programme
- Try to end the meeting on a positive note
As a reviewer avoid:
- A one-sided conversation - the principal should do 70% of the talking, the reviewer 30%
- Criticising the principal's personality
- Allowing the review to be colored by a recent incident rather than the year as a whole
- Letting fear of a "difficult conversation" lead to a "good" review, rather than an honest one
- Ignoring appraisees' views and thoughts
After completing the formal interview
- Draft the formal results and give them to the principal.
- If the principal disagrees with the report, the committee considers their view and either amends the report or keeps the original report with the principal's comments attached.
- Next present the performance review report to the board in committee with the principal exiting the meeting after an opportunity to address the board. The board should discuss the report.
- Inform the principal, personally and in writing, about the outcome of the review.
- Begin drafting a new performance agreement and next year's review process begins.