Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Board of Ed Self-Evaluation discussed at July 20 meeting

It’s time to start getting in gear for the new school year, so I thought I’d set things up with some reflection on last year.

A little background…
The state requires Boards of Education to conduct self-evaluations each year, and actually Ridgewood has been doing an annual evaluation since long before the state required it. Currently, we use the services of the New Jersey School Boards Association. NJSBA gives us a Self-Evaluation form, which is completed by members of the BOE, Dr. Fishbein, and members of the “cabinet” (Mrs. Botsford and Mr. DeSimone)*. Each topic includes questions about the Board’s performance, and then questions for individual Board members to evaluate their individual performance. We all completed our evaluations, which consist of questions with ratings from 1 to 5 plus the opportunity for free-form comments, and then our NJSBA compiles the responses and brings us back a report. We don’t know how individual members answered, and we don’t know which comments are from whom (although, between you and me, sometimes a particular “voice” was recognizable in the comments!).

Like all our meetings, the one on July 20 where we discussed our self-evaluation was public, although no one was in attendance at the Ed Center and I think I heard that no one had yet tuned in to the webcast a couple hours into it. (It is, of course, posted on the district website, so if you’re interested, you can view it by clicking here.) While the meeting was public, we try to use the evening as a chance to speak candidly about the job we’re doing. Or at least, I want to speak candidly. But it those darn cameras definitely have an affect (in my opinion).

One of the purposes of the self-evaluation is to help us identify challenges facing the district and to guide us as we develop Board and District goals for the school year.

I think I’d like to share some of the ratings from our self-evaluation, just so you can see where some of the conversation was focused. I do think it’s interesting that we have a wide range of opinions on some questions. To me, the range of the scores is in some ways more interesting (or potentially alarming) than the compiled average scores. If we all rate something differently, doesn’t our lack of alignment or different perceptions mean something?

Anyway, the evaluation covered the following categories:

Student Achievement
Board Operations
Board Performance
Board/Superintendent Relationships
Board/Staff Relationships
Board & Community

Over the next week or so, I will report on our self-evaluation for each of these categories. First up will be Planning...

*Almost forgot to explain the asterisk! One of the discussions at the Board table on 7/20 revolved around the issue of who participated in the evaluation process. My personal opinion is since it's a self-evaluation, it should only be completed by members of the Board of Ed. Let me be clear: I respect Mr. DeSimone and Mrs. Botsford and I would like to hear their evaluation of the Board's performance, but I think that is a separate conversation. I think the evaluation would be a much more powerful and useful tool if it contained only the opinions of Board members (and possibly Dr. Fishbein, who I was told is technically a non-voting member of the Board). Apparently, according to our NJSBA rep, "most" districts do include administrators in the evaluation process. I think that's odd. We agreed that we would discuss the issue next spring prior to the evaluation, and decide what we want to do.

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