School Head Evaluation: Essential Expectations

ISM’s long-standing recommendation is that the Board President annually form a Head Support and Evaluation Committee (HSEC) to work with the School Head to:

  • create a list of major School Head goals at the start of each year;
  • identify or develop an array of data bearing on each goal;
  • support the Head throughout the year in analyzing the data and introducing, as needed, midcourse corrections; and
  • produce at year-end a summary/critique pertinent to each goal for presentation to the Board President.

Underlying this creative and challenging annual cycle is a more mundane list of Essential Expectations that collectively form an action premise from which each Headship develops.

As Chair of the HSEC, include the list—edited, as needed, by your committee—routinely in your committee meetings, so that, mundane or not, these items are emphasized sufficiently that your Head understands without question that each item is indeed regarded as “essential.” Your Essential Expectations list serves as an ever-present reminder that, regardless of your Head’s success in reaching or surpassing annual objectives, there are day-to-day responsibilities so fundamental that no level of objectives-meeting success will constitute satisfactory performance, if performance on these fundamentals is lacking.

ISM suggests that you, as HSEC Chair, include the (edited-as-needed) list in your School Head’s official job description, and that you treat the list as a pass-fail document in your ongoing work with your Head. If your Head’s performance on one or more of the items becomes a serious issue, then you may consider converting that item(s) into a major objective, even midyear.

Without an explicit list of essential expectations, School Heads tend to be held to the impossible standard of universal perfection. Use your Essential Expectations list to help your School Head—your most valuable personnel asset—in her efforts to shape her performance so as to conform to standards that are simultaneously high and realistic. Bear in mind that your committee’s title is “Head Support and Evaluation Committee.” That being the case, insist that the “support” component in the committee’s title become an integral ingredient in your committee’s interactions with the School Head. To that end, consider including discussion of one or two of the essential expectations as a routine start-of-meeting practice, focusing on positive reinforcement for your Head where appropriate, and on explicitly helpful suggestions when such might be called for.

Essential Expectations of the School Head

  1. Advance the strategic plan’s operations-level items.
  2. Support and act within the school’s mission and values.
  3. Uphold professional standards of personal presentation, punctuality, professional courtesy and discretion.
  4. Represent the school effectively to its constituents.
  5. Develop and evaluate personnel; report issues to the HSEC in a timely way.
  6. Maintain a professional demeanor on and off campus.
  7. “Manage to Line Six” of the multiyear strategic financial plan spreadsheet, i.e., adjust the operating budget annually so as to reach the number shown on Line Six of the multiyear spreadsheet, “Hard Income P&L.”
  8. Maintain professional credentials, as appropriate.
  9. Honor the confidentiality of school, student, and employee information.
  10. Comply with all policies and procedures.
  11. Work effectively with the Board of Trustees.
  12. Make satisfactory progress annually on the major School Head objectives as developed by the HSEC.

Satisfactory performance ________

Unsatisfactory performance items ______________________

Signed, Chair, HSEC ________________________________ Date _____________

Acknowledged, School Head __________________________ Date _____________

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