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Leadership Standards for Principals
These standards are the basis for performance evaluation of principals in the Palo Alto Unified School District. They describe what principals are expected to know and be able to do.

Principals are key members of the District Leadership Team. They have responsibilities to lead and manage their school sites, to be active and contributing members of the District Leadership Team, and to communicate and collaborate effectively with the school community. (Note: Throughout this document, the phrase "school community" is used to refer to all those with a vital interest in the life of the school, including parents and guardians of students, students, site and district staff, and other interested community members.)

Principals are expected to be skilled at delegating and at choosing appropriate decision-making methods. They may fulfill their responsibilities by delegating tasks to other members of their administrative team or to teachers. They may delegate decision-making, make decisions independently, or conduct a collaborative decision-making process. In all cases, however, the accomplishment of the task and the quality of the work or decision are the responsibility of the principal.

These standards are also the basis for performance evaluation of other members of the administrative team at secondary schools, specifically, assistant principals and deans. Each person on the team will have specific areas of responsibility, delegated by the principal. Therefore, not all these standards may apply to a particular team member. Each year the principal will review these standards with each member of his/her team to determine which standards will form the basis for evaluation that year.

There are 14 standards grouped in 5 clusters that represent different aspects of principal leadership:

Organizational Leadership
Instructional Leadership
Human and Interpersonal Leadership
Professional Leadership
Political and Community Leadership
  • Cluster names are indicated by numerals and are displayed in bold face capitals.
  • Standards are indicated by lowercase letters and are displayed in bold face.
  • Descriptions are paragraphs following each standard, displayed in regular type.
  • The descriptions include some of the principal behaviors that exemplify the standard. They are not intended to be exhaustive. Their purpose is to help professionals and community members interpret the standards as they discuss specific leadership performance.
These standards were adopted by the Board of Education in July 1997.

    1. The principal leads the development of a shared vision and implementation of a strategic plan for the school that focus on continuous improvement in teaching and learning and that are consistent with District priorities.

      The principal:
      • Includes school community stakeholders in the school improvement process.
      • Understands and effectively manages organizational change.
      • Encourages and supports collaboration, team-building, risk-taking, and innovation.
      • Facilitates the use of appropriate processes and tools to assess program effectiveness and the use of the resulting data for program improvement.
      • Communicates district goals to the school community and builds understanding of and support for those goals.
    2. The principal manages physical, financial, and human resources efficiently and effectively in the operation of the school.

      The principal:
      • Manages financial resources effectively.
      • Fulfills human resource responsibilities effectively, including interviewing, selecting, assigning, supervising, supporting, and evaluating staff members.
      • Ensures that facilities are safe and conducive to learning.
      • Ensures that school facilities, materials, and equipment are used efficiently and effectively.
      • Appropriately delegates responsibilities to staff members.
      • Effectively communicates to the school community about district financial conditions and their impact on school budgets.
      • Works cooperatively toward achieving districtwide budget goals.
      • Manages time effectively in order to meet obligations for both district and site meetings, reports and information, and public communication.
    3. The principal establishes and facilitates clear decision-making processes.

      The principal:
      • Is knowledgeable about a variety of decision-making processes.
      • Selects appropriate processes and involves appropriate groups for specific problem-solving situations.
      • Is skilled at leading groups through a decision-making process.
      • Effectively leads the school community in the implementation of decisions.
    4. The principal actively supports the district mission and participates in district-wide efforts to improve teaching and learning.

      The principal:
      • Is a district team member and acts as a liaison and a communications link between the district and the school community.
      • Provides information about his/her school to the district, as requested.
      • Participates in district-wide committees and activities.
      • Shares successful practices with school staff and other administrators.
      • Participates fully in district decision-making processes and supports district decisions at the school.

    1. The principal works to enhance student achievement by leading the school community in the adoption of challenging student performance standards and the implementation of curricula, instructional methods, and assessment practices that support those standards and that are consistent with district priorities and outcomes.

      The principal:
      • Is knowledgeable about teaching and learning theory.
      • Considers current research, state frameworks and other quality curriculum documents, district standards and outcomes, and community expectations in guiding and supporting continuous improvement in curriculum and instruction.
      • Promotes the use of a variety of instructional strategies and approaches to ensure that all students are challenged appropriately.
      • Ensures that curricula and instructional methods address the special needs and abilities of diverse groups of students.
      • Is a frequent observer in the school's classrooms and is actively involved with students.
      • Leads efforts to measure student achievement using a variety of assessment tools.
      • Makes assessment data accessible to the school community and uses these data to inform improvements in the instructional program in order to enhance student achievement.
    2. The principal applies the principles of student growth and development to create a learning environment and educational program that provide social, emotional, and intellectual success for all students.

      The principal:
      • Ensures the effectiveness of student advisement, counseling, and guidance services.
      • Develops and administers policies that provide a safe school environment and promote student health and welfare.
      • Addresses student and family conditions affecting learning by collaborating with families and with community agencies to integrate health, social, and other services for students.
      • Works with staff, students, families, and community to develop and implement extracurricular programs to fulfill student developmental, social, cultural, and academic needs.
    3. The principal ensures that teaching at his/her school reflects the PAUSD teaching performance standards and collaborates with others to promote the consistent application of those standards throughout the district.

      The principal:
      • Interprets and clarifies the standards when discussing teaching and learning with staff and when conferring with teachers about their performance.
      • Supports teachers in meeting the standards through modeling, coaching, and identifying and providing additional resources.
      • Consistently applies the standards when evaluating teacher performance.
      • Collaborates with other site leaders to ensure that decision-making regarding permanent status for teachers throughout the district, upholds the teaching standards.

    1. The principal works with others to ensure a school environment that is safe for all and respectful of the community's diversity.

      The principal:
      • Demonstrates sensitivity, consistency, trustworthiness, integrity, and respect for others.
      • Helps develop the shared understandings and values that lead to a climate of openness, fairness, mutual respect, trust and support.
      • Manages and resolves conflict and crises effectively and seeks assistance in developing responsive strategies for dealing with problems.
      • Monitors, maintains, and communicates school expectations for student conduct and deals with misconduct in a prompt and effective manner.
      • Promotes respect for and understanding of the diversity within the school community.
      • Respects the contributions and accomplishments of all students, staff, and community.
      • Is an effective advocate for the individual and group needs of staff and students.
    2. The principal promotes and demonstrates clear two-way communications.

      The principal:
      • Elicits and acknowledges the ideas and feelings of others.
      • Presents ideas in a timely, open, clear, honest and convincing manner.
      • Communicates effectively orally and in writing.
      • Acknowledges and respects diverse perspectives and opinions.
      • Is accessible and visible to members of the school community.

    1. The principal demonstrates commitment to personal and professional growth for him/herself and others.

      The principal:
      • Formulates and implements an effective, continuous growth plan for his/her development as an instructional leader and ensures that this plan reflects district priorities.
      • Participates in and contributes to professional development activities for the leadership team.
      • Works with staff in identifying areas where professional growth and development activities would be useful in improving and enhancing staff performance. S/he helps to identify, organize, and facilitate these activities to ensure that their effect ultimately will be the improvement of student learning.
      • Recognizes and promotes physical and emotional wellness as critical to professional productivity.
      • Ensures that school resources and time allotted to site-based professional development activities are used efficiently and effectively to achieve school goals.
    2. The principal exhibits and promotes personal and professional integrity.

      The principal:
      • Models and reinforces expectations for ethical conduct.
      • Makes decisions equitably and with honesty, compassion, and empathy.
      • Acts in a manner consistent with his/her words and takes responsibility for his/her own actions.
      • Treats each member of the school community fairly and with respect.
      • Effectively addresses unethical behavior.

    1. The principal understands and acts in accordance with legal requirements.

      The principal:
      • The principal applies knowledge of relevant federal and state laws and regulations, district policies and procedures, contractual requirements, and judicial decisions to school and/or district programs and services.
    2. The principal appropriately involves community members and organizations in school matters that affect them.

      The principal:
      • Develops procedures and relationships for working appropriately with local community and governing groups.
      • When developing school programs, takes into consideration the needs and interests of groups within the school system and external to it.
      • Appropriately involves community stakeholders in decision making.
    3. The principal articulates the vision, mission and priorities of his/her school to the community and media and builds community support for district and school priorities and programs.

      The principal:
      • Maintains effective and interactive communications with the community.
      • Promotes positive public relations.
      • Utilizes and responds effectively to news media.

Revised June 2013