How To Do Superintendent Evaluations
What options do Texas school boards have for evaluating superintendents? Get answers to key questions, sample evaluation instruments, and Texas Education Agency (TEA) recommendations.
Evaluating your superintendent’s performance is one of the most important responsibilities your school board has each year. Annual evaluations are also required by Texas law. Whether your board is approaching the review with trepidation or has felt unsure about it in the past, rethinking how your board approaches the process may be beneficial for your district and its superintendent.
The key to a successful superintendent evaluation is alignment with the district goals and objectives. When the board approaches the evaluation cycle as an ongoing process, it ensures continuous communication between the board and superintendent, regularly revisiting key data points, goals, and expected outcomes such as:
- District and student performance
- Superintendent performance goals
- Shared expectations of the board and superintendent
Texas Education Code 21.354 provides two options for the annual appraisal of a school district's superintendent:
- Option One: The commissioner's recommended appraisal process and performance criteria. For districts that choose to use this appraisal process and criteria, it requires, at a minimum: (1) an annual evaluation of the superintendent; and (2) a student performance domain. The board must determine other appraisal procedures and criteria. 19 Tex. Admin. Code § 150.1031.
- Option Two: A district may develop its own evaluation instrument in consultation with the board, superintendent, and legal counsel. The evaluation instrument is then adopted by the board.
With only two general requirements, the commissioner’s recommended option provides significant flexibility. But either evaluation instrument allows a district to select the best option for its needs.
After you choose your evaluation instrument, the process can be broken down into three steps to make it more manageable and understandable.
1. Assess the Evaluation Instrument and Set Goals
Immediately following your superintendent’s annual evaluation your board will need to:
- Assess the evaluation instrument and process used in the recently completed evaluation, including assessing any changes that may be needed.
- Hold a goal-setting session with your superintendent to discuss alignment and articulate essential goals and expected outcomes.
- Work together to identify major priorities for the new evaluation cycle and discuss the superintendent’s role in fulfilling them.
- Develop key performance indicators to measure progress toward goals.
In addition, information in a district’s annual performance report must be a primary consideration for the board during the superintendent evaluation. Tex. Educ. Code §§ 39.306, 39.307(3)(C). This requirement applies to all districts, regardless of whether a district uses the commissioner-recommended appraisal system, or its own local system developed in consultation with district and campus-level committees.
2. Hold at Least One Formative Conference
Your board should hold at least one formative conference during the year. This is an opportunity for the board and superintendent to touch base on expectations and discuss the district’s progress toward achieving goals.
During the formative conference:
- The superintendent will update the board on progress toward achieving key performance indicators that were developed following goal-setting sessions.
- The board can determine how it might assist the superintendent and administration in meeting expectations and goals.
Formative conferences are not a substitute for periodic discussions related to reporting and progress monitoring, which are provided during the normal course of board meetings.
While a board is only required to hold one of these conferences, it could hold them more frequently — bi-annually, or quarterly. Ideally, the formative conference should be scheduled well before the summative conference. This gives the board and superintendent time to address any issues identified in these conversations.
3. Complete the Evaluation and Hold a Summative Conference
The final steps to complete are the written portion — typically an evaluation instrument of some kind — and the summative evaluation, which “sums up” the yearly cycle. As the written element of a superintendent evaluation, it will include the board’s findings and include performance goals for the upcoming year, both of which will inform the discussion taking place between the board and superintendent.
If the board and superintendent have clearly articulated goals and expectations — and are regularly assessing progress toward achieving those goals — the summative evaluation should be straightforward.
Additional Evaluation-Related Questions
This general overview of the annual review process should offer more clarity toward successfully completing your district’s next superintendent evaluation, but we know you may still have some questions. We’ve addressed a few of the most asked questions and provided additional resources your board can use during the evaluation process to ensure it is a well-planned and implemented process, providing a framework for reflection, action, and effective communication.
Q. Can My School Board Use the Same Appraisal Instrument It Used in Prior Years To Evaluate the Superintendent?
A. Yes. Keep in mind before 2016–17, the commissioner's recommended appraisal system for a superintendent evaluation had many more requirements than the current streamlined system. If school boards used an appraisal instrument based on the old commissioner rule, the instrument would have included a student performance domain as well as other appraisal criteria. A district may continue to use an appraisal instrument from prior years, as long as it includes a student performance domain and primary consideration of the information in the district’s annual performance report.
Q. If My School Board Develops a New Appraisal System, Must It Consult With the Community?
A. No. Provided that the district’s appraisal system includes the commissioner’s general requirements for an annual evaluation of the superintendent and a student performance domain, then the district may develop a new appraisal system without consulting with site-based decision-making committees. A new appraisal system should be developed in sufficient time before implementation to provide adequate notice to the superintendent and comply with any contractual requirements.
Q. Does Tasb Offer a Superintendent Evaluation Instrument as a Recommendation?
A. Yes. The TASB instrument includes the legal requirement of student performance and additional items the board might want to consider. These additional items include annual goals as adopted by the board and other areas of performance responsibilities. Items in the district’s annual performance report not included in the student performance domain should be added as well.
- Commissioner-Recommended Student Performance Domain/Superintendent Appraisal Worksheet
- TEA TAPR Guidelines
Board members can also find helpful courses in TASB’s Online Learning Center, including:
- Superintendent Evaluations: A Comprehensive Guide
- Preparing for Superintendent Evaluation
- Setting Superintendent Performance Goals
- The Ongoing Process of Superintendent Evaluation
For more information about the superintendent evaluation process or for assistance from a consultant, email Board Development Services at email@example.com or call 800-580-8272, extension 2458.