Establishing Performance Goals for Your Superintendent

Donna Oser

By Donna Oser, MASB Director of Leadership Development and Executive Search Services

DashBoard, March 16, 2016

If your district is still on a spring cycle for evaluation of your superintendent, now is an excellent time to be thinking about setting performance goals for your superintendent for next year.

Performance goals clarify the board of education’s expectations for the superintendent. They also establish priority and support for the work the board of education is expecting the superintendent to do and should be established at the beginning of an evaluation cycle.

Superintendent performance goals may be developed from:

  • Major district goals/priorities
  • A specific district goal
  • A job performance indicator within an evaluation tool
  • Student Performance Data

When establishing performance goals, the following process may be useful:

  • Involve all board members and your superintendent
  • Decide on desired results
  • Develop performance indicators
  • Identify supporting documentation (evidence)
  • Review and approve final performance goals, indicators and evidence
  • Monitor progress at scheduled checkpoints

Performance Goal Fundamentals

Performance goals should be S-M-A-R-T:

Specific—Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what is expected.

Measurable—Goals should be measurable and their attainment evidenced in some tangible way.

Achievable—Goals should be achievable given the circumstances and resources at hand.

Results-focused—Goals should measure outcomes not activities.

Time-related—Goals should be linked to a specific timeframe.

Process for Writing Performance Goals

  1. Identify the district goal/priority/indicator/student performance data the superintendent’s goal is intended to support
  2. Ask the superintendent:
    1. What will we see next year toward the accomplishment of this that we don’t see now?
    2. What measure will we use to know that the difference represents meaningful progress?
  3. Allow superintendent time to craft a response
  4. Once agreed upon, board and superintendent develop SMART goal statements

To be effective, performance goals should be limited in number, aligned to district goals and assist in clarifying accountability. Establishing clear expectations of your superintendent is an important aspect of the work of a board of education and will go a long way to improving the board/superintendent relationship—not to mention moving the district forward!

If you have questions about superintendent evaluation, please feel free to contact me at or 517.327.5923.

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