One of the most important things that any board of education does is evaluate its chief school administrator, or superintendent. As the individual who has been hired to run the district, and the person to whom all district employees report, the superintendent is the preeminent educator in the district, and the person who translates board policy and goals into action.

The CSA evaluation is, of course, required by law. But there are benefits to conducting a thorough and thoughtful evaluation of the superintendent beyond just complying with the law. Such an assessment can prompt conversation and communication that can help boards of education and superintendents move their districts forward to greater success.

Here are some things that all board members should know about the new evaluation tool and process.

What prompted the revision of the CSA evaluation?

About two years ago, in November 2015, the ISLLC (Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium), now known as the National Policy Board for Educational Administration, released new standards.

The standards are meant to provide state and district leaders with guidance on what school leaders should know and do to strengthen organizations, support teachers, lead instruction and advance student learning. These new standards prompted another look at New Jersey’s CSA evaluation process, since the leadership standards in the CSA evaluation tool are linked to those standards. More information on the new standards is available at: http://bit.ly/2rDccxF.

What are the legal obligations a board has concerning the CSA evaluation, and what is the timetable a board should follow?

The legal requirements of a board of education are established in New Jersey Statute and Administrative Code (N.J.S.A. 18A:17-20.3a; N.J.A.C. 6A:10-8.1). Every local board of education having a superintendent is required to evaluate the performance of the superintendent at least once a year in writing. A copy of the evaluation must be provided to the superintendent, and the superintendent and the board also must meet to discuss the findings. In addition, the evaluation of the superintendent is required to be a provision within the superintendent’s employment contract with the board.

Boards of education are required to adopt a policy and implementation procedures for the annual evaluation of the superintendent by the district board of education. The policy is required to identify the evaluation criteria, which must be based upon the board of education’s annual district goals; program objectives, including indicators of student progress and growth; policies; instructional priorities; state goals, statutory requirements, and the functions, duties, and responsibilities of the superintendent.

The annual written summary evaluation performance report is required to be prepared by a majority of the district board of education’s total non-conflicted membership.

Boards of education are required to hold an annual summary conference between the superintendent and the district board of education, with a majority of its total non-conflicted membership present, to review and discuss the written summary evaluation performance report. The summary conference is to be held in private, unless the superintendent requests that it be held in public. Also, the superintendent, at his or her discretion, is allowed to enter into the record any additional performance data not included in the report, within 10 working days after the annual summary conference.

The entire evaluation procedure, which includes the preparation of the annual written summary evaluation performance report and holding the annual summary conference, is required to be completed by July 1 each year.

Boards of education are required to ensure that all superintendent written performance reports and supporting data are added to superintendent’s personnel file. These records are confidential and are not subject to public inspection or copying pursuant to the Open Public Records Act (N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq).

Additionally, each newly appointed or elected district board of education member is required to complete a New Jersey School Boards Association training program on the evaluation of the superintendent/chief school administrator within six months of the commencement of his or her term of office. This material is covered in NJSBA’s New Board Member Orientation program.

What was the process for developing the new evaluation?

A joint committee of NJSBA field service representatives, along with the NJSBA director of field services, and local district superintendents, along with representatives from the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA) worked for more than two years to develop a new instrument that more effectively met the needs of board members as well as superintendents.

Using the input from board members and superintendents, we analyzed the process and examined statute and code to ensure the procedures met the guidelines set forth in both.

We looked closely at the evaluation document with the goal of making this process more engaging and relevant to today’s standards of leadership as adopted by the State Board of Education. During the review process, we examined evaluation tools from other states and studied the job description of the superintendent. We also scrutinized the 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leaders and translated all of that work into a new evaluation process and document.

The new evaluation document and standards better reflect what leaders in today’s school districts need to know and accomplish to effectively impact student achievement.

What are the improvements in this new evaluation?

In the new process, you will see an emphasis on an assessment pre-conference for an exchange of information that will assist board members in their completion of the evaluation. The document contains new standards and indicators, as well as a new rubric constructed for each standard. Additionally, a new tool was developed to help boards prepare the final evaluation narrative. These are only a few of the changes that we have incorporated

We believe the new and improved evaluation has several advantages, including:

  • It is a new tool that is tied to the standards for school leaders which better reflect the totality of a superintendent’s work.
  • It enables board members to rate each indicator and arrive at an overall rating for each standard.
  • The new rating scale provides board members with more exacting descriptors of performance.
  • Each standard has specific indicators for each individual standard.
  • The format allows the superintendent to upload links to selected evidence for each standard. This enables board members to look at evidence for each of the standards by simply clicking on the link.
  • It enables the board to focus more appropriately on the standard and requires that a board rank the full standard by evaluating each indicator to arrive at the overall rating.
  • The process has changed to include a new pre-evaluation conference to discuss and share: progress towards district goals; performance based on the standards; student progress; and achievement, along with any questions or concerns prior to completing the evaluation

When does it take effect?

The new evaluation document was officially rolled out at the NJSBA Workshop in October and it will be available for districts to use for the upcoming evaluation cycle for school year 2017-2018. The online process will be available March 1, 2018. Districts may opt to use the previous model or switch to the new tool this year. Both will be available online. Next year, for the 2018-2019 school year, the older model will be phased out.

How can board members learn more about the new CSA evaluation tool?

A copy of the guide book and document is be available on our website.

NJSBA’s field services department is also conducting an informational workshop on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at three different locations in the state – Washington Township Administration Building in Gloucester County, NJSBA headquarters at 413 West State St. in Trenton and Montvale High School in Montvale. Registration information is available here

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