The validity of a performance based assessment for aspiring school leaders




certification, critical policy analysis, educational administration, high stakes tests, performance assessment, principals, validity


This paper introduces the new Massachusetts Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL) and uses critical policy analysis to re-examine the validity evidence (using the 2014 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing and a theory of multicultural validity) for the use and interpretation of the PAL in regards to emerging school leadership. Data sources include two years of PAL test documentation plus candidate surveys and interviews with program directors. The author’s role as a test user, faculty instructor, and certified test scorer afforded access to student work, student communications, scorer network training, and state department of education communications and meetings. The paper challenges the content validity, raises questions in regards to evidence based on response processes, internal structure, relation to other variables, consequences, and multicultural validity particularly when the PAL is used as a stand-alone, high-stakes licensure test and offers suggestions to improve the test as a formative assessment.


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Author Biography

Jack Ellyson Leonard, University of Massachusetts Boston

Jack Leonard retired in 2017 from the position of associate professor in the Leadership in Education department at UMass Boston. He was the former director of the graduate programs in educational administration and taught courses on leadership, data analysis, and the history of American urban education. Prior to joining the faculty in 2008, he served the Boston Public Schools as a teacher and then principal of an award-winning turnaround high school. He continues to research and write on school leadership and school partnerships as well as educational history.




How to Cite

Leonard, J. E. (2018). The validity of a performance based assessment for aspiring school leaders. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 26, 163.