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2022 NYSSBA Conference Recap

November 10th, 2022

Photo of our team from the conference
Pictured from left to right: Dan Milgate, retired superintendent of Spencerport School District, Bob Hartz, Sarah Igielinski, Dan Shannon, and Dr. Michael Horning Jr.

On October 27-29, 2022, the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) held its annual convention and education expo at the Oncenter in Syracuse, NY. The convention theme, Together Again, was extremely timely and resonated with attendees, creating an atmosphere of celebration. Several members of the SuperEval team were in attendance with a presence on the exhibit floor as well as within some of the sessions including Bob Hartz, Sarah Igielinski, Dan Shannon, and Dr. Michael Horning Jr.

A highlight was the session entitled, The Superintendent Evaluation Process: Fair and Unbiased, which was led by Darci D’Ercole, NYSSBA’s Director of Leadership Development. The session focused on the superintendent evaluation as a primary responsibility of the board and the importance of the process being evidence-based and free of hearsay, interpretation, and bias. Ms. D’Ercole presented best practices for conducting a fair evaluation of the superintendent’s performance to foster growth while building positive relationships with the school board.

Along with audience questions and interactions, the HEDI scale (highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective) was contrasted with the use of a Likert scale to produce a score. One participant suggested that you couldn’t rate “developing” as that is considered “very bad.” This is a common perspective when discussing leadership evaluation since many of the practices and thinking are derived from a teacher evaluation process. Developing may be considered insulting while the end of the process produces a score to quantify effective teaching. With leadership evaluations, it is less about a score and more important that the process drives meaningful dialogue between the superintendent and school board.

Another topic discussed was the use of 360 evaluation for the superintendent. This type of evaluation is still popular in private schools and there is growing conversation among school board members if they should use it for evaluating superintendents. Ms. D’Ercole expressed the need for school boards to use great caution when considering 360 evaluations. This approach can have significant consequences if not facilitated by an external expert and statistician with valid and reliable survey questions. These are largely popularity contests presenting perception data, attitudes, and opinions of individuals.

In concluding her presentation, Ms. D’Ercole mentioned SuperEval as a platform which supports the NYSSBA evaluation instruments for the superintendent and school board self-evaluation process. It is a platform that incorporates all of the best practices and a timeline for the superintendent evaluation discussed in the session.

The SuperEval team is already looking forward to next year’s NYSSBA conference as it will be held in our hometown of Buffalo, NY October 26-29, 2023.

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