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The Superintendent Evaluation: Shifting Pressures and Changing an Evaluation Paradigm

February 2nd, 2017

Shifting Pressures and Changing an Evaluation Paradigm

Currently, the pressure of conducting an annual superintendent evaluation resides with the school board. In many states, including New York, the school board is required by law to evaluate the superintendent of schools. A superintendent evaluation is an important process and activity, not only for compliance to a state’s regulation, but an essential foundational role of the school board. If a superintendent evaluation does not take place, then it is the school board as the evaluator, which is out of compliance with the law, and not the superintendent of schools as the evaluatee.

A more enlightened superintendent evaluation process shifts the onus of the evaluation to the evaluatee, i.e. the superintendent, rather than the evaluator, i.e. the school board. This shift of pressures changes the current evaluation paradigm. By requiring a process that is inclusive of a superintendent’s self-evaluation that is reflective and evidential, the school board is provided a professional practices portfolio with artifacts that illustrates the work of the superintendent to the board of education. This approach to a superintendent’s evaluation allows the school board to review the superintendent’s work, along with the reflections and self-assessment, and before conducting their own individual evaluations.

Without employing this approach to the superintendent evaluation process, much of the work of the superintendent is not visible to the school board. Nevertheless, it is the school board that is required to evaluate the superintendent. Without the superintendent’s self-evaluation, including the supporting artifacts and reflections, some aspects of a school board’s evaluation could be more subjective with the narrative based on more bias and conjecture rather than a more objective evaluation based on evidence. Insofar, some superintendent competencies will be more visible for the board than others. For example, board members are in an excellent position to evaluate the superintendent’s competencies in the domain of his/her relationship with the board. However, superintendent competencies within the domains of staff relationships or instructional leadership might be more difficult to assess considering the respective role of the school board within the district.

Shifting the paradigm of the evaluation process requires the pressure being placed on the evaluatee, the superintendent, rather than the evaluator, the school board. As the executive educational leaders of the districts, superintendents of schools gladly accept this new paradigm as well as the additional pressure and responsibility it brings. They do so with full confidence knowing this approach supports a more objective, reflective and evidence-based evaluation rather than one based on subjectively, conjecture and bias. Superintendent evaluations, when done following best practices, lead to healthy conversations amongst the district’s leadership team as well as the continued professional growth of the superintendent through the evaluation process.

To learn about how SuperEval can help you and your school board make this shift, please click here to contact us.

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