Since January 2009, principal candidates have had to pass a multiple-choice “scenario exam” that gauges their ability to handle real-life situations. Here is a sample question.

One of your veteran teachers is going through a difficult divorce and as the principal, you have observed a recent change in his performance. He frequently takes days off and is often late to school. His students are not performing as well on interim assessments and other measures of student progress as they have in the past. Though he has been consistently high-performing in the past, you are worried about the impact on students.

What action would you most likely take first?

  1. Because he is one of your best teachers, leave the situation alone as it will probably resolve itself over time.
  2. Meet with a teacher who is close to this person and ask the person to talk to the teacher and help him through this difficult time.
  3. Meet with the teacher to offer your assistance, set expectations for his attendance and student progress, and mutually agree on a follow-up plan.
  4. Discuss with the teacher that his behavior is harmful to students and will require immediate corrective action. 
  5. Move him to a different classroom where his attendance may not be an issue.

The correct answer is 3, which demonstrates that a candidate recognizes the need to take responsibility for resolving issues, hold himself and others accountable for meeting performance standards, set high expectations for staff, and build and maintain an effective school team.

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