Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Board's Self-Evaluation

For the past three years, Seattle Public Schools has been working to improve Performance Management. The most concrete elements of this effort have been the development of job descriptions for nearly every job and the development of structured peformance evaluations based on the job description and characterized by the comparison of objectively measurable outcomes to benchmarks, targets, and goals.

Contrast that effort with the brief "highlights" narrative the Board used to evaluate their own performance.
The Board has succeeded in addressing many significant challenges this year. The Board took decisive action to terminate the employment of the previous Superintendent and the Chief Financial and Operating Officer. During this challenging time, the Board worked together very well, led a thoughtful investigation and decision-making process, maintained confidential information, and was able to quickly restore stability to District operations.

The Board has also led other important efforts this past year, including the comprehensive response to recent audits, addressing significant budget shortfalls, development of new oversight policies, and establishment of an employee ethics program. Board Directors all demonstrate a strong commitment to the work of the District and to improving academic opportunities for all students. Directors continue to devote significant amounts of time each week to their role on the Board. Diversity of opinion, respect, and open communication among Directors were also identified as areas of strength for the Board.

In the coming year, the Board should focus on implementation of new governance policies, be mindful of the line between governance and management, and improve its adherence to communication protocols. The Board should also review how it conducts its legislative meetings to ensure they are as effective and time-efficient as possible. The Board also has an ambitious agenda of continuing the updating, reorganization and consolidation of District policies, which will require time and focus to complete.
Where are the performance measures? Nowhere. Where are the objectively measurable outcomes? Nowhere. Where are the benchmarks, targets, or goals. Nowhere.

This evaluation simply doesn't cut the mustard. It represents yet another failure by the Board. These are the people who are supposed to lead the performance measurement effort, but they have no measures of their own performance. None of the work described in this narrative links to the Board's job description. There are absolutely no performance measures here. There is no measurement at all.

If a Department head or Program manager brought this style of report to a Board Oversight meeting, they would be told - by this very Board - that this format and this information is totally inadequate. By the way, talking about performance measures, departments and programs that got an oversight review by the Board in the past year: 1. Also totally inadequate.

The Board can develop performance measures for their work. It would measures of their
Progress on policy revisions (hopelessly behind schedule), the District's compliance with state law (better this year), the District's compliance with Board Policy (atrocious), the Board's effectiveness in policy enforcement (non-existent), establish core beliefs (meh), create a vision for the future of the district (no), formulate and adopt a theory of action for academic change (no), formulate goals and outcomes that set the course for the district (they have goals, but cannot be said to have set a course).

Departments and programs subjected to oversight review (1), approve the financial plan and annual district budgets (bad job of oversight there), set academic performance goals (yes), set expectations for staff and students (no), nurture a climate conducive to continuous improvement (no), adopt a system for district oversight and accountability (no), suggest corrections when appropriate (no), and keep the public informed about district programs and progress (no).

support school district initiatives (meh), represent the interests of the community (no), and maintain effective community engagement (no).

There are easy ways to assess the Board's performance in all of these areas. And, in nearly all of these areas the Board didn't just perform badly, they didn't perform at all. The Board owes the community a real performance report. More than that, they owe it to the staff of Seattle Public Schools to lead on this change.

This evaluation, like this Board, is worthless.


dan dempsey said...

"For the past three years, Seattle Public Schools has been working to improve Performance Management."

Any chance the District can address "Improving Academic performance of Students"?

Hey the District has been working for years to shrink the "Achievement Gaps" in mathematics.... maybe the SPS needs to stop trying to improve things by a Top-Down central administrative model?

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data...... Clearly mindlessly following the "Experts" recommendations is just NOT cutting it.

dan dempsey said...


Thanks for the link to policy:

The Board is accountable to the community for the success of the district and will adopt a system for district oversight and accountability. The Board will monitor student performance, evaluate Board, Superintendent and staff performance, support school district initiatives and suggest corrections

So k-12 math .... and in particular High School Math .... what are the suggested corrections?

dan dempsey said...

Here is an Article from the Baltimore Sun:
Stop blaming teachers for poor student performance

It is interesting because it looks at a current trend that seems to be a continuing thrust in Seattle =>
Our national focus on education is to turn it into a business with no input from its workers. Teachers are laborers, and students are the commodities. But consider this: The state with the highest state test scores, Massachusetts, is the most unionized state for teachers. Conversely, South Carolina, (a tip O' the Hat to MGJ) the most anti-union state in the country, shows the worst performance among its students but nary a peep from the "reformers." Yet it is somehow the unions' fault that students aren't performing well? Who is manufacturing failed "products?"

Love the:
nary a "peep" from reformers.... It sounds a lot like SPS math ... and Steve Sundquist and Susan Enfield unable to suggest a solution ... other than more of the same with emphasis.

Clearly these two are not going to say either:
(1) These Math results are pathetic or
(2) The SPS needs a change in direction in Math

... Sure as heck not going to say the above after Sundquist voted for the Crappy High School Math texts as well as the NTN contract with project based learning everywhere even though is was a complete failure at NTN schools for math.

Sandy Blight said...

Follow the money - who else got paid by the First AME church - when MLK was sold?

Board has failed to heed warnings on Construction management - follow the money - Board members do not discuss relationship with General Contractor.

Culprits: DeBell, former employee - Stephens, Kennedy and Ikeda.

Anonymous said...

I would not only follow the money, I would also follow the people.

Ikeda is now with Rob McKenna's office - yea - the AG now running for governor.

Snail slime trails across the state...