NYSSBA Superintendent Workshop Recap
April 25th, 2022
The New York State School Board Association (NYSSBA) led a virtual live event on Friday April 22, 2022. The event, entitled Superintendent Evaluation Workshop: Developing and Supporting Effective Superintendents, was facilitated by Darci D’Ercole, NYSSBA Director of Learning Development, and Mark Snyder, NYSSBA Leadership Development Manager.
As a proud sponsor of the event, SuperEval’s Dr. Michael Horning, Jr. was asked to say a few words to kick things off:
Thank you for the opportunity to Darci, Mark, and all our friends at NYSSBA. This is an incredibly important topic and also represents a fundamental core responsibility of school board members.
Performance evaluations should always be conducted with a great seriousness of care and purpose. It should be an objective and evidence-based process with great involvement of the person being evaluated. It should result in meaningful, productive, and focused conversations.
My professional life and the focus of my doctoral program research are around leadership evaluations in general with a specific focus on superintendent evaluations. It is easy to quickly realize the real challenges school board members face in conducting superintendent evaluations:
- You don’t see the day-to-day work of a superintendent. This is an employee you may see only once or twice a month.
- For some board members, it might be the first time they have ever conducted a performance review.
- Newer board members might still be learning about the roles and responsibilities of the school board and the superintendent along with the unique relationship and historical roots in our public school systems.
- Five, seven, or nine board members might have varying perspectives of performance and feedback.
- Some districts might use “home-grown models” and instruments that are well-intended but lack the validity and reliability, undermining the evaluation.
These are real challenges, so I congratulate all of you for taking the time to learn about this incredibly important topic to conduct successful evaluations in order to keep your leadership team healthy.
If we can sum up the core elements of this process, it would include:
- The board defines clear goals and expectations of leadership performance.
- The superintendent is provided the opportunity to showcase their work and the district’s successes in meeting the goals and board expectations.
- Focused feedback centers around areas of success, areas for growth, and sets new focus areas or goals for the next year.
You are in great hands today as Darci and Mark will lead you through this workshop in providing the best practices for success in overcoming these challenges.
Our work with SuperEval is operationalizing these best practices in an evaluation process. SuperEval supports the NYSSBA superintendent and school board evaluation processes and rubrics. We are thrilled and honored to be both a participant and sponsor of this workshop.
With that, I wish you much success in today’s event.
The workshop content, activities, and conversations centered around the following core areas:
The Evaluation’s Purpose: To Develop and Support
The content provided focused on the elements which define a high-quality evaluation process. Additionally, the importance of the use of the evaluation to strengthen the relationships between the board and superintendent was a key talking point.
The Evaluation Process: Fair, Reliable and Evidence-Based
This part of the workshop focused on the objective measurement of a superintendent’s performance, along with how annual goals aligned to the performance evaluation should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Specifics to the NYS evaluations were also discussed, such as the importance of the evaluation process being put on file in the district office for the community to access no later than September 10th of each year.
The second part of this section focused on the use of NYSSBA’s superintendent evaluation rubric. Organized in five standard areas, the instrument includes 29 professional practices of superintendents with descriptors for each level of performance. An interesting activity focused on the importance of data and evidence along with ensuring feedback is objective and not based on bias and interpretation.
The Evaluation: Providing Feedback/Addressing Concerns
Focused and productive year-end conversations are always important as a culmination of this process. Darci and Mark explored best practices for framing feedback as positive and constructive.
An especially interesting number of questions centered around 360 evaluations. Both Darci and Mark expressed concerns as well as cautions for using such models for the superintendent’s evaluations.
Discussions continued about consolidating a superintendent’s evaluation from all the different board members. On this topic, Mr. Paul Haggett, Board President of Massena Central School District in New York State, offered the following for the other participants, “SuperEval combines all individual board member responses and creates a unified board response. A definite plus for this platform.” Mr. Haggett continued, “Folks, if you don’t use SuperEval, you should consider it. It has allowed our board to once again consistently fulfill our legal obligation!”
Exploring the NYSSBA Superintendent Evaluation Instrument
This activity concluded the workshop and allowed participants to look in-depth at the components of the evaluation instrument.
Nearly 70 participants from across New York State engaged in the event, including board presidents, members, and superintendents. At the end of the workshop, the chat was filled with positive comments regarding the value of this workshop and the expertise of Darci and Mark facilitating the conversation.