Our Superintendent Evaluations Seem Sterile?
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Question from a client:
“Our superintendent evaluations seem ‘sterile.’ We monitor all our policies on schedule, record our actions (almost all ‘in compliance’ or ‘making reasonable progress’). Then at the end of the year when it’s time to conduct a summative evaluation, all we do is offer the superintendent a one-page document. It reaffirms that we did monitor everything and did find that the district had made reasonable progress and operated in a compliant fashion.
This does not seem like an adequate evaluation to me.”
The reason your process seems to be inadequate is that it is! Your superintendent deserves more than some simple reaffirmation of something she already knows, based on the board’s disposition of the reports as they were presented.
Let’s rewind this whole process and look at the essentials. It is true that the board has said (in policy BSR-5) that:
- the performance of the district and the performance of the superintendent are identical;
- the district’s performance will be determined based on the monitoring of the board’s R and OE policies; and
- the superintendent will be credited with the results of the board’s decisions about compliance and reasonable progress.
But simply repeating what the board’s decisions about monitoring reports were and offering that as the evaluation is a disservice to the whole process.
The board needs to take an additional step and assess what the reporting process revealed about how the district is performing. Using the reports as a guide, what is working and what is not? Which areas are performing at an exceptionally high level—and therefore might warrant some kind of commendation? And where are the problem areas that deserve priority attention for the coming year?
This analysis of the reports should lead to some meaningful conclusions by the board about the district’s overall performance, and these conclusions should be the basis for some meaningful feedback—both written and verbal—to the superintendent. It is the board’s conclusions that make this exercise important and meaningful. The monitoring reports serve as the basis for the conclusions, but the process does not end with the reports themselves.
This means that at the end of the monitoring cycle, after all OE and R reports have been presented and acted upon by the board, the report covers, at least, should be reviewed and discussed as the basis for overall judgments about the district’s performance. A written report that reflects the board’s summation of that performance should be prepared and presented to the superintendent, accompanied by a face-to-face conversation about the Board’s conclusions and priorities for the next year.
Following this path should make the evaluation much more meaningful and much less sterile for all parties.