Principal evaluation process effective, Mehlville board told

Board votes to accept prinicpal’s retirement request

By EVAN YOUNG

The Mehlville School District is in the fourth year of using what it believes is an effective principal evaluation process, district officials said recently.

Following a November review of the district’s performance-based teacher evaluation process, Deputy Superintendent Eric Knost provided an overview of how its principals are graded to the Board of Education. Mehlville’s administrator evaluation process was developed around a series of standards created by the Interstate School Leader Licensure Consortium, or ISLLC, and adopted by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2002.

“Prior to the performance-based principal evaluation we’re using, we had a pretty antiquated model that was simply some statements with some check boxes, and there really wasn’t much in the way of dialogue needed, at least ongoing dialogue,” Knost said.

But the district’s current process, implemented as a pilot in 2006, promotes that ongoing dialogue, he said. All principals and assistant principals are asked to create professional goals every school year based on the six ISLLC standards, which state an administrator “promotes the success of all students” by:

• “Facilitating the development, articulation, implementation and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by the school community.

• “Advocating, nurturing and sustaining a school culture and institutional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth.

• “Ensuring management of the organization, operations and resources for a safe, efficient and effective learning environment.

• “Collaborating with family and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs and mobilizing community resources.

• “Acting with integrity, fairness and in an ethical manner.

• “Understanding, responding to and influencing the larger political, social, economic, legal and cultural context.”

Knost and Brian Lane, assistant superintendent of supervision of schools, keep in contact with principals throughout the school year, formally meeting with them every February to discuss the progress on their goals.

Evaluation forms are submitted by March 1 to determine employment for the next school year, Knost said. They include evaluation narratives from both the principal and supervisor.

Administrators’ performance on the ISLLC standards are graded using ratings of “accomplished,” “mostly accomplished,” “marginally accomplished” and “not accomplished.” Principals who receive the latter two ratings on any of the six standards work with Knost and Lane to develop improvement plans.

Asked if principals are held accountable in specific areas, such as their school’s Missouri Assessment Program — or MAP — scores, Knost said test scores are part of each school’s improvement plan, which a principal and supervisor use to develop the former’s professional goals but ultimately is “beyond the principal because it’s a collaborative product” involving many people.

If the district fired a principal because of a school’s MAP performance, the decision would be based on his or her failure to implement strategies to improve test scores — not the scores themselves, Knost said.

“The judgment wouldn’t be directly on the MAP scores, but the judgment would be on the strategies that were implemented — were they implemented, were they carried out?” he said. “And then ultimately we’re believers in, when you have the right minds in the room you usually have positive gains when effective plans are put in place.

“Missouri’s not a state that connects individual student test scores to individual teachers and principals. But you can’t remove the two — there is a connection.”

Superintendent Terry Noble told the Call that the ISLLC process was the “best way to measure performance” because it’s both goal-oriented and results-oriented.

“Like everything else, it depends on how well we execute the plan, but I feel confident we’re doing a good job with that,” Noble said. “We’ve made this a point of emphasis this year from the very beginning. The primary goal of ours is to ensure we effectively evaluate our administrative staff, not only so that we can improve in the area of administration and instructional leadership, but to help remediate concerns and recognize outstanding performance.”

In other district news, the Board of Education recently:

• Renewed the district’s comprehensive school improvement plan for 2009-2010.

The board is required to review and approve the plan annually. The current plan initially was adopted in 2005 and will expire at the end of the current school year.

• Approved the 2010-2011 school year calendar and tentative beginning and ending dates for the 2011-2012 school year.

Students’ first day of school for the coming school year will be Aug. 18, and their last day will be May 20, 2011.

• Approved a series of new and modified board policies as recommended by the Missouri School Boards’ Association.

Also, during a Dec. 10 closed session, the board voted 6-0, with Karl Frank Jr. absent, to approve a retirement request and release agreement submitted by Mehlville Senior High School principal Vince Viviano, and to approve a resignation request and release agreement submitted by one of the high school’s assistant principals, Robert Hicks, both effective June 30.