You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor school board to discuss superintendent evaluation process Wednesday

By Danielle Arndt

The Ann Arbor Board of Education will revisit the topic of superintendent evaluations at Wednesday's Committee of the Whole meeting.

The meeting officially will begin at 7 p.m. at the Balas Administration Building to allow for a 5:30 p.m. closed, executive session for Superintendent Patricia Green's mid-year review.


Ann Arbor school board President Deb Mexicotte and Superintendent Patricia Green, left, listen to community members at a 2012 Board of Education Committee of the Whole meeting.

Melanie Maxwell | file photo

A mid-year superintendent review is fairly typical, trustees said. Although the board did not have one for Green last year, which was her first school year with the district. Board President Deb Mexicotte said the board generally has one or two informal reviews throughout the school year and then a formal evaluation in June.

Green received a positive evaluation last June that congratulated her on her successful first year at AAPS. The Ann Arbor school board traditionally issues a public statement following the formal review, but the informal mid-year reviews take place entirely in closed session.

Prior to Green's formal evaluation in 2012, there was much discussion about how the board should proceed with the evaluation process in light of new state requirements. The board will take up this conversation again on Wednesday.

In July 2011, Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law Public Act 102, part of a package of bills known as Michigan's teacher tenure reform law or the Revised School Code. The Michigan Council on Educator Effectiveness immediately was established and tasked with developing a statewide teacher evaluation system.

And while clarity on teacher evaluations from the state and the MCEE has started to trickle down to the local level, school boards still are left with little guidance on how to judge the performance of their sole employee: the superintendent.

Starting in the 2013-14 academic year, 25 percent of superintendents' effectiveness ratings must be based on student growth data. Student attendance rates also must be factored into their ratings. There also has been some initial speculation that the state might require a written ratings system or evaluation for superintendents, similar to what is required of teachers.

Currently, the Ann Arbor school board does not fill out or retain any documents to evaluate its superintendent. Some trustees may write notes or fill out a mock survey or sample evaluation form to help guide them through the group discussion on the superintendent's performance, but the district does not retain these notes. The board produces a summation statement at the close of the evaluation discussion that is then released to the media and put in the superintendent's personnel file.

Vice President Christine Stead is leading the superintendent evaluation discussion for the Ann Arbor board.

The big question to consider this year will be which metrics and data to use to gauge student growth, Stead said. She added the superintendent obviously influences student achievement growth differently than a teacher does.

"We need to think hard about what is going to be the most meaningful way to look at the data we have for the superintendent, and how we would like to have that data rolled up — whether it would be by building, or MEAP scores district-wide, all of our desegregated (student population) subgroups by grade level …," Stead said. "There are a lot of options … but it's about picking a good set of what we think reasonable measures are for the superintendent."

She said there also are a number of other measures that could be of interest to the board that go beyond student achievement, for example: student discipline data or decisions made regarding the hiring and firing of key staff.

Mexicotte said the board is going to attempt to do this in anticipation of what it could be asked to do in the future by the state.

"But we're going to do it proactively, … since the state has not been forthcoming in timely fashion," she said.

The board not only will need to identify the set measurements it would like to use when conducting the superintendent's performance review, but it also will need to establish guidelines for what to do if the superintendent does progress on her goals and missions.

Last year, there was a lengthy discussion on how to include public opinion in the evaluation process. A few board members talked about surveying all of the Ann Arbor Public Schools' parents to give them the opportunity to provide feedback for the board on how they perceive the superintendent is doing.

"I think there are mixed opinions on the board about the value of that — is it a good use of people's time, not just our own. But I expect it probably will be brought up again," Stead said.

Mexicotte said some members of the board struggle with the confidentiality and anonymity pieces of polling or surveying the public and not knowing whether the survey respondent has interacted with the superintendent in a meaningful way. She said the question then becomes is it simply interesting to have this information, or is it useful to the board's decision making?

"Personally, I will have that in mind as I enter Wednesday's conversation (about the evaluation process)," Mexicotte said.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 2:53 a.m.

I find it funny that the Board said that they thought about surveying parents and such about Supt. evaluation after lengthy discussion, but no action BUT very quickly sent out surveys to everyone in Ann Arbor about changing the trimesters at Skyline. Thinking that the Supt. evaluation is a much more important issue and public commentary is needed. She has done a horrible job since she started, and is just now putting herself out there, starting to visit more schools, attend events and her weekly notes now don't sound like a mechanical soundbite since the public has started questioning why she is being paid so much. Betting that she doesn't give herself a pay cut.


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:26 a.m.

The Ann Arbor Board of Education should really just admit they made a mistake with the hiring of Dr. Green. If the 2011 evaluations that were done by the Board members, and the surveys/polls of the community were positive or supportive of Dr. Green, they would have been retained. However, they were not and as a result, the evidence was destroyed. The Board is unwilling to open their eyes and admit that mistake, after mistake was made in this hiring. Further damage is being done by her retention. Each of these bloggers and everyone else in Michigan can see what is going on except for the 7 elected Board members. I feel sad for the children and all the employees who have to work closely with Dr. Green.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:20 a.m.

CAN they put an end to the witch hunt at Carpenter?

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 1:14 a.m.

The school board hires this person, so there is never an option of a negative evaluation, it would mean they made a mistake. Hence, no paper trail, they do not want to be questioned about how they evaluated a superintendent.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

Still discussing the evaluation process, eh? The school board doesn't have a clue! Go figure!


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

It is interesting that no paper trail is forced, yet look at the way the other employees in the district are forced to paper trail themselves to death. Teachers have a paper trail for their yearly evaluations. Teachers are required to fill out report cards 3-4 times a year which is a paper trail. Teachers are required to fill out Achievement team forms for all kids struggling within the district, yet another paper trail. Teachers are taking part in data teams to support all learners, another set of papers required. With all that being said, our BOE can't fill out forms for 1 super once or twice a year? I just don't get it at all!


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

How can she get a positive performance review when the schools are $2.5 million over budget?


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Ask the teachers union who controls the purse strings in the school system. There is very little discretionary money to manage once the contractural obligations are met. Most of the over runs are due to negotiated union rules stipulating extra pay when the student counts go over a certain limit.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

SonnyDog, you took the words out of my mouth! Extremely well said!


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

I am outraged at the lack of evaluation tools and the lack of transparency involving the evaluation of the highest paid position in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. Also the comment about the parents having a percentage in the evaluation; " I'm not sure if it is a good use of the people's time ...", who's time are we talking about? We pay the superintendents salary, we would love to have input in this process !! Next, how about the teachers, what percentage of the evaluation process do the people who are in the trenches every day with our children have ? Have we forgotten that education is suppose to serve the people and NOT just test scores and the bottom line?


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

I'm curious as to why the board doesn't seem to fill out or retain documents related to the Superintendent position. This seems surprising, given that the position is a high-profile, highly paid and high responsibility position. My initial thought is that without some kind of written record, it leaves open an uncomfortable angle of political maneuvering without sufficient review - not to say that is happening in this case but I am very surprised to read this. Is there a particular reason why the position is evaluated in what seems to be a unique way? Have they delayed creating documentation due to changing state requirements? I'm, it might be interesting to see a follow-up article on this, or some educational disclosure about the process from the school board.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

Thanks for the link - that was appreciated and informative!

Danielle Arndt

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Kuriooo, this story explains their position in more detail: The biggest thing I got from speaking with a few of the trustees is that rankings alone tell little, and the AAPS board feels its conversation-based approach is more thorough and doesn't pigeon-hole them into discussing specific topic areas or feedback. But the link above really explains it much better. Thanks for your questions. One other point, there are several other districts in the state that do it the same way for superintendents. Locally, Ypsilanti used the same model last year.