As public elected or selected officials, board members must be accountable to the community. The evaluation instrument is an excellent accountability tool. The board must answer various questions, such as: What are the legal requirements of superintendent evaluation? What is an evaluation's purpose? How can we measure performance? Is an evaluation instrument a measure of growth? How does it serve to improve superintendent-board relations? What is the board's ethical responsibility to the community regarding student learning? What documents are needed to perform the evaluation?
To properly evaluate the superintendent, the board must:
1. Develop the superintendent evaluation policy and procedure.
2. Develop the superintendent evaluation instrument.
3. Discuss and determine the school board goals and school district goals.
4. Develop school district priorities.
5. Define the criteria for the measurement of the goals.
6. Require the superintendent to develop a work plan to accomplish the goals.
7. Set the timing for an interim (midyear) and final evaluation.
8. Determine the documents needed to conduct the evaluation.
9. Take steps to tie the evaluation of the superintendent to the district's contractual obligation with the superintendent.
Getting Expectations on the Table
An important part of the evaluation process is placing the board's expectations on the table. Stating expectations and determining how you will measure them are essential to make the evaluation process work effectively. Here are some questions the board should consider: What do we expect the superintendent to accomplish this coming year? Are our goals reflected in budget allocations? Do we have metrics that adequately measure the accomplishment of goals? What has the superintendent accomplished? What improvements are needed for the superintendent?
There are many methods to evaluate a superintendent. These include:
1. Checklist or Rating Systems. This is the most common method of evaluating the superintendent. Typically it is a numerical rating system to quantify the performance of the superintendent. For example, 5 is Excellent, 4 is Good, 3 is Fair, 2 means Needs Improvement, and 1 is Poor.
2. Written Essay. This evaluation process relies on written essays by each board member that identify the strengths and weaknesses of the superintendent's performance. The key to the success of this approach is that board members focus on being constructive in their analysis.
3. Objective Analysis. This evaluation process requires the superintendent—with the board's assistance—to develop a plan for what he or she plans to accomplish in the coming year. Included in the plan is the timing of monitoring reports that the superintendent will provide to the board.
4. Performance Appraisals. This evaluation process mixes the rating and checklist system and the objective analysis. It is becoming more popular because it helps translate board policy, the written work plan, with a scalable system of measuring the superintendent's performance.
Gathering the Evaluation Material
The following materials should be reviewed by each board member prior to the evaluation session:
1. Evaluation Instrument. It should be filled out individually by each board member. The summary of the individual board members’ evaluations are compiled by the board chair or president and distributed to each board member prior to the evaluation session.
2. District Goals and Priorities. The board chair or president should compile all written documents and distribute them to the board members.
3. Superintendent Employment Contract. The contract will be relevant when the board considers the status of the superintendent's employment.
4. Superintendent Evaluation Policy and Procedures. The board can check if policy and procedures have been followed.
5. Other Relevant Documents. All other documents will be supplied as needed.
Conducting the Evaluation
The superintendent evaluation should be conducted at a separate board meeting. It should focus on performance goals and priorities, with the superintendent presenting his or her accomplishments and areas that need improvement as well as identifying the circumstances that prevented the accomplishment of goals. In the meantime, board members should identify the strong points of a superintendent's performance, areas for improvement, and any priorities or goals that the board wishes the superintendent to focus on. Board members should also review the contractual implications of the evaluation. For example, some options might include rolling the contract for an additional year, freezing the contract, and/or discussing a remediation program and plan of improvement.