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.
STANDARDS SHOULD BE DEFINED FOR WHICH PERFORMANCE AREAS?
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
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.
SHOULD PERFORMANCE STANDARDS BE DEFINED BEFORE THE SUPERINTENDENT IS EVALUATED?
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
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.
WHAT IS AN EXAMPLE OF ONE DISTRICT'S APPROACH?
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.
WHAT ARE SOME IDEAS FOR FOLLOWUP PROCEDURES?
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
* 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.
and Richard Miller. "Assessment Project Marks Major Milestone." SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR 44,2 (February 1987): 15-16. EJ 349 171.