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The Development and Validation of the Vanderbilt Assessment of Leadership in Education


 The purpose of this research proposal is to propose to continue the development and validation of the Vanderbilt Assessment of Leadership in Education (VAL-ED), a newly developed assessment instrument of the effectiveness of principal leadership behaviors.  The VAL-ED is an evidenced-based rating scale that assesses principals' behaviors known to directly influence teachers' performance, and in turn students' learning.   Principal leadership is an essential element of successful schools.  To date, much of the work on developing educational leadership for school improvement has focused on licensure; program accreditation; and professional development.  The identification and development of effective leadership, however, has been significantly hampered by the paucity of technically sound tools for assessing and monitoring the performance of school leaders. There is virtually no school leadership assessment instruments that have undergone scientific, psychometric development or have been validated against measures of student achievement. Despite this, all districts in the US continue to assess and evaluate their school principals.

To address this problem, with funding from the Wallace Foundation we began to develop a set of instruments to assess the effectiveness of school leaders. We are in the initial stages of our development work.   The resulting instrument, the Vanderbilt Assessment of Leadership in Education (VAL-ED), is a paper and on-line assessment which utilizes a multi-rater, evidence-based approach to measure the effectiveness of principal leadership behaviors known to influence teacher performance and student learning. The VAL-ED is a 360 degree assessment; teachers, the principal, and the principal's supervisor respond to the behavior inventory. The VAL-ED measures core components and key processes.  Core components refer to characteristics of schools that support the learning of students and enhance the ability of teachers to teach. Key processes refer to how leaders create and manage those core components. Effective learning-centered leadership is at the intersection of the two dimensions: core components created through key processes,

With support from the IES, we propose a series of reliability and validity studies of this leadership assessment instrument for measuring critical principal leadership behaviors for the purposes of diagnostic analyses, performance feedback, and progress monitoring. We propose the following studies from a national representative sample of schools: item bias, evidence sample, confirmatory factor analysis, known groups, correlational study with student achievement, internal consistently, re-test stability, equivalents forms, and cross informant agreement.   The key components of the assessment will include a behavior inventory or profile, interpretable from both norm-referenced and standards-referenced perspectives.  Our goal is to develop an instrument that  will yield valid performance information that can facilitate communication about leadership with existing leaders and leadership teams, their staff, their supervisors, and other educational stakeholders.  Upon completion of this research project we envision an assessment instrument  that has the following properties: (a) works well in a variety of settings and circumstances, (b) is construct valid, (c) is reliable,  (d) is feasible for widespread use (both on-line and paper and pencil versions), (e) provides accurate and useful reporting of results, (f) is unbiased, (g) yields a diagnostic profile for formative purposes, (h) can be used to measure progress over time in the development of leadership, and (i) predicts important outcomes.