What gets measured gets done!

Focus on the Classroom by Rosanne Winter

Have you ever heard the maxim, “What gets measured, gets done”? If a goal is important to you, develop a plan to meet it and measure your progress toward it.

According to a study conducted by the American Association of School Administrators, nine out of ten school boards evaluate their superintendents on the criteria of, “Leading and managing personnel, fiscal resources, facilities, community relations, fostering a positive school/district climate and relating effectively with the board…”

Collier County School Board is measuring our superintendent's success on five goals: student achievement, strategic planning, public engagement, professional learning communities and adequate reserves. He is not being measured though, on what our community is telling us is a serious lack of effective communication and a climate of fear and intimidation. In a recent poll conducted by the Naples Daily News, when the public was asked to grade the superintendent, 63% gave him an “F” rating.

This week, the school board is conducting a workshop to discuss our superintendent’s evaluation, and on Thursday, August 19, the board is scheduled to vote on whether to extend his contract through school year 2012.

Some of the data is out and our school board gives our superintendent high marks for strategic planning (the plan is actually far from complete) and attaining adequate reserves. They also are encouraged by what they see as his increase in engaging with the public. Student achievement and professional learning communities receive a middling grade. But what about what was not measured - communication and climate?

Communication is incorporated in the “public engagement” goal. Progress toward this goal was measured via a series of surveys to parents, principals, central office staff, teachers, business and community leaders, and students. The return rate from the business and community groups was so low, the data could not be used. The surveys to all school system personnel were administered by the superintendent’s subordinates via the school systems internal e-mail system . This method is hardly anonymous, and not surprisingly the return rate was low and these surveys gave the superintendent a “meets expectations.” The means taint the end, and as a result these surveys provide us with little usable data.

Communication continues to be a great concern, and the climate issue looms large. So why is climate so important? There are not enough teachers to go around, especially if the class-size amendment is not passed. And the number of good and great teachers is even lower. Collier will be in competition with Lee and other surrounding districts for the best teachers. The pay is comparable and the cost of living is lower elsewhere. If the climate is one of fear and intimidation, why not leave Collier and find a better place to work? Many already have, and it will get worse. Then watch as student achievement rates drop.

So, if a collaborative climate and effective communication matter to student achievement, then measure those using valid tools and reliable processes. What you measure will get done.

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