Assessing the Superintendent's Performance

What measures do you consider important in assessing the Superintendent’s performance?

How would you assure meaningful and substantive input from the community, including parents and students, in crafting the Superintendent’s evaluation?


Candidate Responses:

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Jack Foley:

Massachusetts has a prescribed process for the evaluation of the superintendent with personalized goals in professional practice, student leaning, and district improvement, as well as established standards in the areas of instructional leadership, management and operations, family and community engagement, and professional culture. The rubrics aligned with these standards are thorough and provide a comprehensive look at the work of a superintendent and a district. These evaluations require the school committee to look at quantitative and qualitative evaluations.

Qualitative analysis is very important as it assesses the work and the success of the superintendent and the leadership team, particularly within the standards. A challenge with qualitative evaluations is that it is not necessarily based on data and outcomes, but more likely on inputs (programs, policies, observations). It would be helpful and informative to the school committee to create a means of soliciting constructive feedback on the performance of the superintendent from parents, students, and community members. The school committee should explore what other communities have done to gather this information. One option would be to develop a portal by which interested members of the community can provide their feedback to the school committee as they are developing their annual assessments.

Another change that the school committee and the superintendent must consider is the use of quantitative goals and student outcome data more broadly throughout the process. The superintendent’s FY20 goals are largely transactional, which although an important part of a district’s strategic goals for the year, are difficult to assess. We need to assign benchmarks for these transactional goals that tie specific outcomes to this work. We can also use the benchmarks established as part of the strategic plan developed with the Worcester Public Schools, the Worcester Research Bureau, and the Worcester Education Collaborative as consensus goals. Student outcome data drives a better understanding of progress the district is making and the performance of the superintendent, the leadership team, and the school committee.

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John Monfredo:

One of the most important jobs of a school committee member is evaluating the performance of the superintendent. It is a duty assigned by law to the Committee and we follow the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guide lines. The guide lines are very thorough for there are guides to Rubrics and Model Rubrics for the Superintendent to follow in her self evaluation of her goals.

As School Committee members we review the superintendent’s self evaluation of her goals and comment on her performance. Throughout the year we constantly receive feedback from the community, parents, students and educators in an informal way. School Committee members are the eyes and ears of the public and our job is to work in partnership with the superintendent and listen to community members for their input.

As a former educator I feel I have a good handle on the performance of our Superintendent for I visit schools, talk to parents and am involved in many projects within the community. I have listened to community and the public talk about Superintendent Binienda’s passion for education, her high energy, excellent work ethic, and her eagerness to do all that she can to make a difference in the lives of ALL students. Most individuals in the community have embraced her positive approach to making things happen within our district.

Keep in mind that the role of the school committee is not to micro-manage the job of the superintendent but to work in partnership. We offer ways of improving the quality of education for our students and give suggestions how it could happen. As a former educator, principal and teacher in Worcester, that is one of my strengths that I bring to the job as a school committee member.

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Tracy Novick:

All educators in Massachusetts, under the 2011 Act Relative to the Achievement Gap, are required to be assessed under a common rubric, and this includes superintendents. Through what is intended to be a full year cycle, the superintendent is to be assessed on instructional leadership, management and operations, family and community engagement, and professional culture. They are to be assessed on their professional practice, their impact on student learning, and their leadership in district goals. In every step of this process, the School Committee is required to use data to which they have access in making an accurate and informed assessment of the superintendent’s professional competence.

The degree to which the School Committee does this job thoroughly and professionally sets the tone for the rest of the district, as all other licensed professionals within the district undergo the same process. For the School Committee to depend instead upon personal impressions denigrates the professional practice of the entire district.

The rubric as it exists does allow for student and staff feedback, and the state even has model feedback documents that they offer online. It is up to the Committee to decide to use them. Community interaction is best measured through the “Family and Community Engagement” piece, which the standard holds to be “two way” and “culturally competent,” both of which, of course, are crucial to the Worcester Public Schools.

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Brian O’Connell

Since 2012, school superintendents are evaluated through a multi-faceted process, which applies a series of four standards, that are divided into “indicators”, and further into “elements”. In turn, these provide a four-tier ranking system. The goals on which the evaluation is based are usually selected by the Committee in collaboration with the Superintendent. The goals must be “SMART” – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. School improvement plans can – and, I believe, should - be used in evaluating the superintendent’s performance, and these plans are formulated with the input of School Improvement Councils, which feature parent and community participation.

While the process – developed by the Department and Elementary and Secondary Education (“DESE”), does not provide any additional role for community input, it does not prohibit any such role either. Worcester, however, has adopted a strategic plan which offers an effective means of inviting, and welcoming, public guidance in the process. The plan provides for at least four forums, and these forums can be effective vehicles for public advice in fashioning the “SMART” goals for the superintendent, and in welcoming advice as to the superintendent’s performance on these goals, both at mid-year (through a review if the Superintendent’s “mid-cycle” progress report), and at the conclusion of the year (the “end-of-cycle”, “summative evaluation” report).

In August, DESE issued an updated Model System for Evaluation of Educators, with special provisions for the evaluation of the Superintendent. It provides some “streamlined implementation strategies”, and it features a distinctive “five step cycle of continuous improvement for superintendents”. I am anxious that we adopt this model system – if enables a deeper data-informed focus on performance in achieving the SMART goals. It features “three public meetings each year dealing with evaluation”, and these meetings – publicized well in advance – will offer additional opportunities for public advice as well.