News and Tribune

April 22, 2013

NA-FC superintendent’s evaluation criteria debated

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY —

Though some of the details have been nailed down, the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp.’s board of trustees were still hammering out how to evaluate the superintendent at a work session on Tuesday.

But the board came to a consensus on leaving End of Course Assessment scores out of the evaluation and bringing in ISTEP as part of the tool.

Superintendent Bruce Hibbard said ECAs only represent the end of a student’s education, whereas ISTEP scores reflect more growth through a period of several years.

He also said since graduation rates are based on four-year data, there are a lot of factors that can affect them negatively that are largely out of the district’s hands.

“What’s complex about the high school graduation rate is that you can have a lot of kids leave and go across the river and they count against us,” Hibbard said. “That piece doesn’t show up in those numbers. Neither does special ed [students] who are moderate to mild who have no chance of graduating.”

The board has only evaluated Hibbard once in four years. While the board has largely adopted the Indiana School Board Association’s model, they still had to figure in how assessments, graduation rates and other metrics fit into the picture.

While high marks in ISTEP+ tests have been achieved and preliminary results of IREAD 3 and graduation rates look promising for 2012, Mark Boone, board member, said it was important to keep that momentum up and consider those factors in Hibbard’s evaluation.

Hibbard said considering where the district was when he arrived, with ISTEP passage rates hovering around 70 percent, he hopes the evaluation will largely show his performance in the highly effective range.

Boone said in order for the school system to keep moving upward, the district needs to keep aiming higher. He said if scores are good one year, maintaining that line should be considered effective.

“Where you were last year becomes the baseline for next year,” Boone said. “That’s effective. If we’re already at 82 [percent], we’re saying 80 percent is highly effective, all you have to do is maintain.”

Hibbard said that works in a lot of settings, but education is more complex than that. He said scores often fluctuate with nuances in the student population, including whether they’ve been with the district all their lives, are just moving in, or have other issues that affect their learning.

“... We’re not dealing with widgets,” Hibbard said. “Every class is different. The student population changes. And again, I’m all about accountability. I’ve been here four years, that’s what I’ve been about. But the truth is to evaluate somebody ... is the instrument fair and thoughtful?”

But the tests in the evaluation only make up about a third of his total score. The board will also evaluate Hibbard on his leadership and goal attainment, which will account for about 60 percent of the score.

The board also came to a consensus on broadening the steps between effective and highly effective ratings from 2 percent to 5 percent. 

The board also hasn’t set a date for finishing the evaluation tool or when Hibbard will be evaluated.