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Massachusetts Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL)

Performance Assessment for Leaders Project

To:Higher Education Presidents, Chancellors, Provosts, Deans, Alternative Provider Executives, other Senior Organizational Leaders, Administrative Leadership Licensure Program and Education Faculty, School District Superintendents, Charter School Leaders, Candidates for Licenses as Administrative Leaders, Aspiring Leaders, and Other Interested Stakeholders
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:October 23, 2012


I am pleased to inform you that ESE will begin work with partner Bank Street College of Education, their team of national leadership and performance assessment experts, as well as multiple representatives from the worlds of preparation pathways and K-12 education to design and develop a performance-based assessment system as one component of principal preparation and licensure. In addition to promoting strong and effective preparation for all principals, this assessment system is important to securing an aligned and seamless connection between preparation and practice for administrative leaders in the Commonwealth. At each step of this multi-year project, we will be engaging the field and seeking your input.

Through the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's leadership and Race to the Top funding, the Department has increased its attention in the area of educator effectiveness. This project is a key initiative that will lead to a comprehensive system to support educator development across the career continuum. Research on school leadership consistently underscores the central role of the principal in creating the vision, support, and organizational structures and environment where powerful teaching and learning is the norm. Furthermore, it emphasizes the importance of the principal in attracting, retaining and supporting effective teachers.

This assessment, Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL), will be aligned to the revised Professional Standards for Administrative Leadership (603 CMR 7.10), which the Board passed in December 2011, and the associated indicators contained in the Guidelines for the Preparation of Administrative Leaders issued by the Department in May 2012. The new Professional Standards for Administrative Leadership, which are focused on preparation and licensure, are identical to the four Standards of Effective Administrative Leadership Practice in the Educator Evaluation Regulations passed by the Board in June 2011.

Unlike standard paper and pencil tests, PAL will include performance assessment tasks that more closely reflect the authentic work of school leaders, aligned to state indicators, and can be completed as part of the preparation pathway. Accomplishing this objective requires pilot and field testing of the assessment tasks, the process of completing them, and their scoring, all of which will be done collaboratively with the field.

I urge all stakeholders engaged in the preparation of future administrative leaders to embrace this opportunity to create a more robust and authentic assessment of the preparedness of our Commonwealth's future leaders. We will devote the first year of this project to planning and development. In subsequent years, the assessment will be piloted and field tested. We will solicit your input and participation throughout the assessment development and testing process. This includes, asking representative faculty and leaders to serve on advisory committees in developing the assessments, asking programs to pilot and field test the assessments and provide feedback on their validity and use, and soliciting faculty and leaders to be trained to score candidates' assessment products. Our intent is to design an assessment system that is integrated within leadership preparation programs, building on Massachusetts leadership standards and national accreditation standards for leadership preparation.

We encourage stakeholders to learn more about the PAL project and offer feedback at a regional informational meeting in the spring of 2013 and subsequent in-person and online forums. More information on these sessions will be available in the next few months. We look forward to engaging with the field and seeking your input as we move ahead with the work. If you need any additional information regarding this project, please contact Preeya Pandya at 781-338-3242 or via email to

Last Updated: November 7, 2012
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