Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Administrator evaluation - are we as good as we can get?

Last year every building administrator in Michigan was evaluated. The categories were highly effective, effective, and ineffective. The MI School Data site has an Excel spreadsheet that can be downloaded with the ratings from every public school district in Michigan.

For the 2011-2012 school year, there were ratings reported on 3,214 building administrators. 32.7% were rated highly effective and 65.4% were rated as effective. In total, 98.1% of building administrators were rated as effective or highly effective.

In Oakland County, there were ratings on 332 building administrators. 40.6% were rated as highly effective and 58.1% were rated as effective. In total, 98.7% were rated as effective or highly effective.

Last year in Oakland County a total of 4 administrators were rated as ineffective.

These ratings makes me wonder about things.

First, I know many administrators. The ones I know are hard working, good people. This reflection is not meant to denigrate or disparage anyone.

Second, I think it's important to know that I believe in accountability. Every one who serves in public education should be held accountable. Students come to school to learn. Taxpayers fund our schools. We have to be able to demonstrate that students are learning.

I also believe in evaluation. Evaluation helps us improve. Evaluation - done well - identifies what we do well and what we can do better. Without evaluation and reflection I won't improve. Getting better is important.

But when everyone is above average what does it mean? The results of these evaluations give the impression that we are doing about as well as we can be doing. How can we get any better than this? Over 98% of the building administrators in the state and in Oakland County are effective or highly effective.

Not every student in Michigan succeeds. Not every school in Michigan is well run. Can we say that every administrator is effective or highly effective when we can't say that about our schools?

Even if every student or school was successful does that mean we can't improve. Being rated effective or highly effective gives one the impression that you can't get any better.

I think we can get better. I think we have to get better.

Perhaps we are using the wrong tool. Perhaps we are trying to fit a simple solution to a complex issue.

Instead of ratings we need reflections. Instead of keeping score we need a tool that helps us make plans.

I don't want someone telling me I'm doing a wonderful job (although that is appreciated). Instead I want a process that would help me honestly look at what is working and what is not and find ways to improve, ways to get better.

But a process can't be reported in a one word rating. A process requires deep thought and time.

The students in Michigan deserve the best. They also deserve people who strive to improve everyday. What we need now is a tool and a process that will help us get there.

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