Sunday, June 22, 2014

Clarifications on the Superintendent Evaluation

You may have read a short article in last week's Hillsboro Tribune on our superintendent evaluation vote:

"Hillsboro school board members voted 6-1 last week to extend superintendent mike Scott's contract one year, through June 30 2017.  Board member Erik Seligman cast the dissenting vote, citing the fact that the district has two elementary schools... that are ranked among the lowest in the state, according to the Oregon Dept of Education report cards released yearly."

While not saying anything strictly untrue, this article commits a major act of omission.    Reading the paragraph above, I think 99% of people would conclude that I had attempted to fire the superintendent.   That was not the case-- in fact, if you review the video of the meeting or the much better OregonLive article at you will see that I made some very positive comments about Mike.   My vote was about a disagreement with the working and content of the evaluation letter that came along with the contract renewal.

My main objection was that rather than a nearly 100% positive letter, there should be an "areas of improvement" section, like there is in the annual evals I get from my employer, stating ways in which the district has been falling short and needs to improve.    While Mike has many positive accomplishments, it is also the case that (after 5+ years of his leadership) our district is still behind the level of quality we really want in a number of ways.   In particular, in the past year HSD still had some bottom-5%-ranked schools on the state report card, with their concentration in majority Latino neighborhoods leading some of us to declare an "Equity Emergency". (To review that discussion, see this blog post from last fall.)

I really think that as part of our duties to hold the superintendent and the district accountable for performance, this should have been present in the evaluation letter.   Aren't there some things, like state academic ratings, that are implicitly part of every superintendent's job automatically?!?

By the way--  I find it ironic that this piece of misleading reporting by the Tribune comes just a few months before our vote on the district's official "paper of record".    This will certainly factor into our debates on that topic. 

Anyway, to reiterate:  contrary to the implications of the Tribune article, my dissenting vote on the superintendent evaluation was not an attempt to fire Mike, but merely a statement of my opinion that we need to do a better job stating the areas of needed improvement as well as the positive accomplishment in the annual evaluation letter.    I'll look forward to continuing to work with Superintendent Scott over the next year on improving Hillsboro's overall academic performance.

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