Assessment: The role of leadership

Admittedly, I have not thought much about the role that school leaders could play in ensuring sound assessment for every student in the building. When considering the question of “what do leaders need to know?” there are a few things that come to mind. Firstly and most importantly I believe that school leaders and in this case school principals must actively embrace the role of instructional leader. In my own experience this has not always been the case. Principals are consistently being asked to take on more and more administrative responsibilities and this has had an impact on their role as instructional leader.

Firstly and most importantly, schools leaders must be understand the principles of sound assessment, but beyond that, they must recognize sound assessment practices and model these practices for their staff.  Strong instructional leaders will be able to identify strong assessment practices and highlight these practices with their staff. This may involve connecting teachers with others in the building, providing professional learning opportunities or actively ensuring that time by the leader is being spent in the classroom with teachers. This last one is perhaps the most difficult due to the ever changing role of school administrators and therefore this responsibility may fall on teacher leaders who may lack experience or expertise in the area of assessment. Lastly, I strongly believe that leaders must practice sound assessment with their staff. This may be done through staff meetings, classroom visits, discussions in the hallway or staff room. When leaders embody and demonstrate these principles it provides staff with a strong example of how this can be conducted with their own students.