School superintendent evaluation in Montana public school districts
Sullivan, Douglas Wayne
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The AASA 2000 Study of the American Superintendency indicated between 1950 and 1992 the median age of superintendents was 48 to 50. Since 1992 the median age of superintendents increased to 52.5, the oldest recorded median age for superintendents during the twentieth century. The results of this study indicated during the coming decade half of the nation's superintendents will retire. In 1999, the Montana School Boards Association, the School Administrators of Montana, the Certification and Standards and Practices Advisory Committee and the Department of Education at Montana State University, conducted a study that assessed school administrator shortages in Montana. The study indicated that 61.3% of districts had hired an administrator within the last three years. A study conducted by Dr. Dori Neilson (2002) for the Montana State Action for Education Leadership Project (SAELP) revealed that 48% of administrators in Montana school districts plan to retire within the next five years. Communication between the superintendent and school board is a mechanism that will improve relations between the parties and may increase superintendent longevity. A thorough performance appraisal of the superintendent can improve communication between board members and the superintendent. The problem addressed in this study is that it is unknown by state leaders and policy-makers to what degree, based on the perceptions of practicing Montana public school superintendents, evaluations of school superintendents in Montana are aligned to the Performance Domains identified by DiPaola and Stronge (2003). A t-test of Independent Samples revealed significant differences in several areas regarding alignment of current Montana superintendent evaluation practices to the Domains. An understanding of current practices for evaluating the superintendent in Montana revealed areas of improvement that will result in improved superintendent evaluation practices. Evaluations that improve communication between school boards and superintendents of Montana school districts will provide a framework to increase superintendent longevity and decrease the need to hire a superintendent in a job market that is experiencing a shortage of qualified candidates. This study provides recommendations for revisions of policies and laws governing evaluation of Montana superintendents and training of Montana school board members in superintendent evaluation.