Powell's Evaluation Whitewashed At Board Meeting

At a recent Montgomery County Board of Education meeting, the board chair, Kenney Gulley, glossed over a summative evaluation of superintendent Joshua Powell. In doing so, he made it seem to the general public and the media that Powell had received an almost glowing annual review.

Watch the footage for yourself:

The trouble with that? Powell’s actual scores were horrible.

Here’s that evaluation:

This serves as the summative evaluation for Dr. Joshua Powell, Superintendent of the Montgomery County Schools for then 2013-14 school year.

Standard 1: Leadership and Culture (average score 1.8 on a 0-4 scale)
The Board of Education recognizes that Dr. Powell has brought about needed change in the district by promoting high achievement and academic rigor and we do want to continue that emphasis. There is a feeling that staff turnover is higher than desired so the board would like to see more emphasis put towards staff development rather than replacement. The district has changed over the past 3 years and a change in the Superintendent’s leadership style will be required to help the district transition from a turnaround district to a sustainable, high performing district.

Standard 2: Policy and Governance (average score 1.8 on a 0-4 scale)
The Board finds the working sessions to be a beneficial means of sharing information and would like to continue utilizing these. The Board feels that the communication between the Board and the Superintendent must improve for the leadership team to be effective for the district. The interpersonal relationships with some Board members are lacking and must be improved. Some Board members feel that too many decisions are made at Central Office and desire that the Board be included in all decisions regarding policy and facility plans.

Standard 3: Communications and Community Relations (average score 1.2 on a 0-4 scale)
The Board recognizes information is consistently provided to the local newspaper and radio station with district employees provided to share information. The Teacher Feature is a nice recognition and similar recognition for classified staff should be considered for implementation. Improved communication between the Board and SBDM Councils is desired and should be implemented to grow the district vision. Overall, the Board feels that communication is insufficient among district stakeholders and district communication should be more proactive utilizing a more thorough media plan.

Standard 4: Organizational Management (average score 2.2 on a 0-4 scale)
The Board appreciates the Superintendent’s ability and desire to maintain a responsible budget for the school district as well as the taxpayers. The Superintendent has implemented new school safety measures. Some suggestions for further improvement would be to improve emergency plans/procedures for weather related problems. The Board would like to see more emphasis on planned facility maintenance. With the recent increases in worker’s compensation claims, the Board thinks it would be prudent to provide emphasis on safety training and possibly adding a district safety coordinator that would be OSHA certified.

Standard 5: Curriculum Planning Development (average score 2.4 on a 0-4 scale)
Dr. Powell has shown that he understands child development and he added technology to district classrooms. Changes in curriculum have been well implemented in the past. Dr. Powell will need to focus on continuity of curriculum leadership to assure successful implementation of other common core standards.

Standard 6: Instructional Leadership (average score of 2.2 on a 0-4 scale)
Student achievement in the district has improved under Dr. Powell’s leadership as measured by ACT, PLAN and EXPLORE scores. More students are graduating high school college and career ready and the district graduation rate is improving. The Board is presented updates at each monthly meeting regarding student achievement. The Superintendent should consider additional resources in curriculum coordination. The Superintendent should regularly make time to be in each school during school hours to monitor instruction and provide support.

Standard 7: Human Resources Management (average score of 1.4 on a 0-4 scale)
The career fair has been a good addition to promote the district to perspective employees. The Board is concerned by the perception of high turnover of staff and administrators. The Board recommends that Dr. Powell work at mentoring and developing employees. The Board is also concerned about the district’s preparedness for PGES (Professional Growth and Effectiveness System) implementation. The district job postings should be kept current.

Standard 8: Values and Ethics of Leadership (average score of 1.4 on a 0-4 scale)
Dr. Powell has shown that he values the education of all children in the district. He does not compromise on dealing with difficult and divisive issues. Some Board members have concerns with the leadership style of the Superintendent and would like to see him develop a stronger team approach rather than individualistic approach.

Standard 9: Student Achievement and Learning (average score of 2.4 on a 0-4 scale)
Test scores have risen under Dr. Powell’s leadership and the Board would like to see that continue. The Board would like to see more consistency in the program offerings and career tracks offered at the high school. Communication about changes in this area should be communicated to the Board and the entire district. The Accelerated School is a nice addition to the educational offerings for our students. We need to be sure this program is structured, staffed and supervised to ensure we are meeting the objectives of the program and the needs of the students and parents.

In summary, this Board had a range of individual scores on each standard which were averaged to provide an assessment on each standard. Dr. Powell’s highest ratings were in the areas of instructional leadership, curriculum planning and student achievement. Being focused in these areas has provided needed improvement to the education of our students. The areas where Dr. Powell rated lowest were communication and community relations, human resources and values and ethics. Feelings of mistrust creep in and damage working relationships when communication is insufficient. Improving communication between the Board and the Superintendent is imperative to developing a healthy leadership team for the district for the upcoming school year.

Yeah, stellar review, that.