ERIC Identifier: ED301970
Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Klauke, Amy
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management Eugene OR.

Performance Standards for School Superintendents. ERIC Digest Series Number EA34.

School districts are discovering that developing performance standards for administrators can be cost effective, reduce crisis management, set and maintain direction, and give the community a standard for measuring school success. In addition, "the process of developing and attending to goals and objectives can strengthen the relationship between your school board and the superintendent," Robert Heller (1984) says.


In conjunction with each administrator's personally developed assessment plan, school boards, says John Hoben (1986), should establish and prioritize specific objectives within the following management areas: administrative, instructional, financial, operational, research and development, public and community relations, and human resources. As Norita Aplin and John Daresh (1984) state, "the role of district administrator has been accepted by the general public, and most importantly by school boards, as primarily one of business and financial manager." It is necessary, they believe, to reinforce the concept of superintendent as an "educational leader." They report on one school district's efforts to determine "ways in which the district superintendent served as an educational leader supporting the instructional priorities of the school system."

An examination of administrative decisions to see how they reflect an emphasis on academic achievement, equity, communication, and long-range planning is crucial for district success, according to Aplin and Daresh. Evaluations should also measure the extent to which central office staff practices are consistent with district values, effectively utilize human and financial resources, and reflect commitment to the school district's stated direction.


Not necessarily. One of the ways to decide on performance standards is to carry out an open-ended examination of the superintendent's performance. Such an approach, making use of extensive interviews and observations, can reveal the areas where the superintendent is performing effectively as well as those areas where improvement is needed. This information can then be used to define the standards against which the superintendent's performance will be judged over an agreed-upon period.

The advantage of this approach--basing the standards on what is already known about the superintendent's performance--is that it takes into account each superintendent's unique leadership style and makes sure the standard arise out of the district's real needs.

In an alternative approach, specifying the performance standards is the first step the school board takes when it designs the superintendent's evaluation process. Such an approach is especially appropriate when the board is hiring a new superintendent.

Performance standards are only one of several components of an overall assessment plan. Other sources of criteria include the district's mission statement and the superintendent's job description. Data from these and other areas, Hoben says, can be formulated into matrices showing the evaluation of key result areas, compatibility of objectives with obligations, and timelines.


The Plymouth-Canton Community School District in Michigan has established an Administrative Performance Appraisal Plan whereby, according to Hoben, the board and superintendent generate yearly objectives and specify both performance standards and areas for attention. Progress on specific objectives is then reviewed in supportive sessions before a year-end evaluation. These sessions provide the board with an opportunity to discuss with the superintendent the following questions in regard to each objective:

What is the status of the completion of this objective?

What types of problems are hindering accomplishment?

Is the objective realistic?

Do we need to adjust the outcome?

How can we help you achieve this objective?

Robert Heller (1984) advises that specific objectives, desired results, timelines, methods of measurement, and persons responsible for the evaluation all be outlined in writing.

School boards may soon be able to use an external evaluation agent. The American Association of School Administrators, Jerry Melton and Richard Miller (1987) report, is in the process of developing assessment centers that will provide resources to identify superintendent skills. These centers will provide participants with a complete analysis of their individual strengths and weaknesses in the areas of personal, managerial, and leadership skills. The data can then form the basis of their professional development plan.


Performance information should be filtered back into the school system in the form of a realistic, comprehensive, and individualized improvement plan for administrators. Melton and Miller suggest six followup activities:

* suggested readings and experiences in at least two development areas

* repeated listening to individualized cassettes of participants' goals

and strategies

* development of a peer support network

* follow-up session to check progress and provide support

* additional follow-up contact at specific intervals to provide

reinforcement and assess performance changes

* telephone consultations to provide constructive criticism

Performance data might also be utilized to influence administrative training programs by filling in what might be revealed as perceptible gaps in superintendents' general knowledge base. David Champagne and his colleagues (1984) recommend establishing "more uniform and specific criteria for training programs which will be built around the core of learning in the school program and its reinforcement through conceptually sound supervisory systems."


Aplin, Norita D., and John C. Daresh. "The Superintendent as an Educational Leader." PLANNING AND CHANGING 15,4 (Winter 1984): 209-18. EJ 316 776.

Champagne, David W., and others. "Analysis of the Content of Training Programs for Chief School Administrators in the Areas of Instructional Methodology, Curriculum, and Instructional Supervision." Paper presented at annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 23-27, 1984. 21 pages. ED 244 360.

Feldvebel, Alexander M. "Review of State Standards for the Initial Certification of Administrators and Supervisors." Paper presented at annual meeting of the National Conference of Professors of Educational Administration, Seattle, Washington, August 16-21, 1981. 41 pages. ED 212 049.

George, Julio R., and William B. Seabrook. "This Board Benefits by Comparing Community Evaluations with Its Own." AMERICAN SCHOOL BOARD JOURNAL 173,1 (January 1986): 38-40. EJ 329 679.

Heller, Robert W. "For Smoother School Operations and Stronger Ties to the Superintendent, Place Goal Setting at the Top of Your Board's Agenda--Here's How to Do It." AMERICAN SCHOOL BOARD JOURNAL 171,4 (April 1984): 50-51. EJ 296 792.

Hoben, John M., "Matching District Goals and Administrator Accountabilities." SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR 43,3 (March 1986): 12-14. EJ 333 067.

Lenhart, Bill. "Effective Management in School Districts." SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS 48,10 (September 1982): 12-13,44. EJ 268 297.

Melton, Jerry, and Richard Miller. "Assessment Project Marks Major Milestone." SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR 44,2 (February 1987): 15-16. EJ 349 171.

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