Parvin Ahmadi headshot
Monika Moulin headshot
Charles Weis headshot
by Parvin Ahmadi, Monika Moulin and Charles Weis
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Maximizing student success

The crucial role of superintendent evaluations for school board members

As dedicated stewards of education, school board members play a pivotal role in shaping their local educational agency’s success trajectory. One of the most impactful tools at their disposal is the annual evaluation of the district’s superintendent. This article will explore the significance of superintendent evaluations, the symbiotic relationship between board members and superintendents and the critical role this collaboration plays in supporting Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) goals.

board game pieces lined up with a magnifying glass in front of them
The superintendent evaluation is an opportunity for trustees and their superintendents to mutually construct, monitor and adapt ongoing plans for improvement that are first, last and always focused on student learning.

The board-superintendent relationship
The foundation of a successful school district lies in the effective partnership between school board members and the superintendent. The school board’s recognition of having only one employee — the superintendent — is fundamental. However, it is equally crucial to understand the transformative potential of the superintendent evaluation process. This evaluation is not a platform for fault-finding but an opportunity for trustees and superintendents to collaboratively construct, monitor and adapt plans focused on student learning.

Understanding the distinct yet complementary roles of board members and superintendents is paramount. Board members set the vision, mission and policies, while the superintendent, as the LEA’s educational leader, translates these into actionable plans for student success. The success of this partnership relies on effective communication, trust and a shared commitment to advancing the district’s goals.

Annual goal setting and superintendent evaluations

A cornerstone of the board-superintendent collaboration is the annual setting of goals for the superintendent. These goals should be aligned with the LEA’s overarching vision and mission. This collaborative process establishes clear expectations and ensures that the superintendent’s objectives contribute directly to the LEA’s success. The evaluation process is not a forum for a one-way fault-finding session when boards list things they think their “one employee” didn’t do well. It is an opportunity for trustees and their superintendents to mutually construct, monitor and adapt ongoing plans for improvement that are first, last and always focused on student learning.

The entire process should be collaborative and conversational. Construction of the superintendent evaluation begins with governance team meetings as early in the superintendent’s tenure as possible. The first step in the process is reviewing team satisfaction with past superintendent evaluation methods and instruments.

Reviewing the superintendent’s contractual agreement, job description, relevant board policies and prior year goals and evaluation is next. The governance team collectively identifies priority areas and sets SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) quantitative and qualitative goals for the coming year that move the district toward its long-range vision. Consider CSBA’s Superintendent Governance Standards ( and district LCAP goals and success indicators as a place to select annual goals. Once selected, the student learning goals should be distributed throughout the LEA and used to evaluate administrators, thereby creating LEA-wide consistency.

The LCAP connection
The LCAP is a key driver of educational priorities in California. When thoughtfully crafted in collaboration with the board, superintendent goals should seamlessly align with the LCAP. This alignment reinforces the district’s commitment to meeting state and local educational priorities, creating a cohesive approach to improving student outcomes.
The mid-year check-in
A mid-year check-in becomes imperative to ensure the ongoing success of superintendent goals and LEA initiatives. This checkpoint allows the board and superintendent to assess progress, identify challenges and make necessary adjustments. A best practice for boards to consider is the use of their governance calendar. Adding calendaring updates to the master document will not only provide opportunity for regular touchpoints and benchmarking of progress, but will support and align to the work in the district as outlined in the superintendent’s evaluation packet. Regular communication during this mid-year review fosters transparency and allows for proactive problem-solving, ensuring the district stays on course toward its objectives.
The annual evaluation
After each academic year, the board should meet to assess and evaluate the superintendent. Evidence of progress toward goals should be provided to the board during this session, with opportunity provided for questions and discussion. Each board member should then be allowed to rate the superintendent individually. The board president collects each member’s rating, leads a closed session discussion to identify board member consensus and produces a narrative of the collective evaluation of the superintendent. Before the evaluation is added to the superintendent’s file, they should be provided an opportunity to respond to the confidential evaluation and add comments.

In the complex landscape of education, the relationship between school board members and superintendents is fundamental to student success. Annual superintendent evaluations, collaborative goal setting, and a mid-year check-in form the bedrock of this partnership. While the process is rigorous, it can be the most effective time allocated to continuously improving your LEA. School board members can empower their superintendent to lead effectively and drive continuous improvement in pursuing educational excellence by fostering open communication, trust and a shared commitment to the district’s vision.

CSBA’s Governance Consulting Services provides board development guidance, including services on superintendent evaluations. Evaluations are also covered in the Human Resource module in CSBA’s Masters in Governance® courses, and additional resources can be found at If you would like more information about superintendent evaluations, please email