Brent Staples
New York Times
Dedicated principals tend to work endless, exhausting hours. Along the way, they struggle with budgets, staffing problems, disengaged parents, gang violence, holes in the roof and finding clean clothing for impoverished children who arrive disheveled and unwashed.

Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, recently described the public school principal’s life in her city as “near impossible.” She explained: “It is impossible to come to the end of the day and say you finished that day’s work. That just doesn’t happen.”

The harried principals of Chicago have even more to do since the city introduced a new teacher evaluation system that produced its first teacher ratings this month. The possibilities and pitfalls of the new system are on vivid display in a probing analysis by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, an influential research group. The study includes important lessons for the 40 states that are constructing new evaluation systems and especially for large cities that plan to introduce systems similar to Chicago’s.