Sixty-Forty Staff Evaluation

Dec 4, 2014

by Bob Thompson

The 60/40 System Background

Evaluation of central office administrative (COA) support staff is one of the most “under looked” aspects of school improvement.  These are the people whose job it is to provide principals with the personnel, curriculum, staff development, financial, transportation, maintenance, and other services vital to the principal’s success.  Yet the success of central office support administrators is not usually tied to the success of the campuses they serve.

The traditional method of supervising and evaluating central office administrators is highly centralized.  They serve at the will of the superintendent and are not directly answerable to anyone but the superintendent.  If a principal feels his/her staff or building is not well served by central office support staff, the principal may talk with the administrator in question, but in the final analysis these administrators work for the superintendent and the principal has no leverage other than to complain to the superintendent.

It is an old axiom in business that what is inspected by the supervisor is what gets done by the worker.  Since the principal is not the supervisor of central office staff, what the principal inspects (or expects) does not necessarily get done.

In fact, in many districts central office administrative support staff members are seen by the superintendent (and themselves) as above the principal in the hierarchy.  And quite often central office administrators are allowed to hold the principal responsible for instituting programs emanating from the central office.  But, this system defies the basic premise of accountability.  Since it is the principal that is held accountable for the performance of students on his/her campus, it should be the principal who holds central office central office administrators responsible for providing support specified by the principal, not the other way around.


For an enterprise to function effectively there must be a clear chain of responsibility that holds specific people responsible for final outcomes, and everyone else responsible for the success of those they serve.  In the case of school districts the principal is responsible for campus performance and the superintendent is held accountable for the success of the district overall.

But it is illogical to judge central office administrators to be successful if the people they serve (i.e. the superintendent and the principals) are not successful.  The success of everyone on the leadership team should be judged together.  And by giving sixty percent of the central office staff member’s evaluation score to the principals it underscores the fact that student and campus success are the core functions of the district.

Guiding Principles for the 60/40 Evaluation System

  1. Campuses are the production centers of the district.
  2. The success of the district is determined by the success of the campuses.
  3. The major responsibility of central office administrative support staff is to make the campus principals successful.
  4. The most effective means for making the campuses successful is for everyone on the leadership team to have a stake in their success.
  5. There must be a clear communication of expectations between the principals and central office administrators and a there must be a well-defined process for measuring effectiveness of services to be provided.
  6. Principals are the “customers” and central office staff are the “suppliers” of in-district services necessary for the principal to be successful.
  7. Principals, like other customers, should be able to expect a certain level of performance from their suppliers and to support and reward effective central office administrators.
  8. In the rare case where service provided to the principals by central office personnel is not timely and/or is substandard, principals should have options available to them to initiate changes to improve service.

Sixty-Forty Accountability Process

  1. The most critical step in developing the 60/40 evaluation instrument is the process used to identify the evaluative criteria.  The process must be collaborative, not arbitrary, and it must be performance based, not subjective.  The two stages for identifying and getting agreement on services to be provided are:
    • Pre-conference:  The process should begin with a joint meeting of customers (the principals) to decide what services they will need during the year (as a group and individually) from each internal provider (central office administrator) over the course of the next academic year.  At the same time the providers will meet and agree on what services they are prepared to provide to the campuses and which central office administrator is responsible for the delivery of which services.
    • Conference:  Then the principals, as a group should meet individually with each provider to discuss their needs and hear from the provider what are the limitations/problems he/she must overcome to meet the principals’ expectations.  The objective of the meeting is to get agreement on what is an appropriate level of performance to expect of the central office administrator (COA).  The principals must spell out the expected performance (e.g. work orders must be completed within five working days of receipt) and the acceptable parameters (e.g. not when children are in the building).  The COA must respond by making sure he/she understands the expectations and parameters.  If there are unusual conditions that must be met (e.g. large amounts of overtime, etc.) then the superintendent should facilitate the resolution of those issues.  It would be unfair, for example, to expect the work orders to be processed on time if there is no money budgeted for overtime or the maintenance department is clearly understaffed when compared to staffing levels for similar districts.
      • Once there is agreement on an issue, it should be written into the evaluation instrument for that particular central office function.  Any irreconcilable differences will be mediated by the superintendent or his/her designee.
      • The principals, central office administrators, and the superintendent should work together to agree on a common scoring process (see appendix for an example).  At this time they should also agree on the “cut” score (i.e. what is the lowest score acceptable as “passing”.
  1. Interim Conferences (Optional):  These conferences may be scheduled as needed during the year to clarify or provide additional feedback or direction.  In general it is usually a good idea to have at least one interim conference during the year.  The superintendent should also hold formative meetings with support staff for the sole purpose of determining how performance can be improved.
  2. Follow-up Conference:  At the end of the year the principals and the superintendent (in separate meetings) should meet with each central office support staff administrator and hear their end-of-year reports.  During this session each principal should individually evaluate and score each objective.  After the evaluation is completed and the administrator is excused, the principals should develop a consensus score on each item, determine areas of unacceptable performance, develop an expectation and timeline for improving performance, and then call the support staff person back in for a feedback session.  The superintendent should conduct a similar session with each central office administrator that answers to him/her and the principals.
  3. The superintendent should then meet with the principals so the principals can share their assessments with the superintendent.  The superintendent should then weight the scores with composite average score given by the principals counting sixty percent of the total, and the score of the superintendent counting forty percent of the total.  Like principals and superintendents, administrative support staff should be required to receive a “passing grade” in order to be judged successful.  In the rare instance where conferences and interim meetings with a central office administrator are not sufficiently productive, the principals can exercise their collective prerogative to give a negative assessment of the administrator to the superintendent.
  4. The central office administrators must, of course, also meet the expectations of the superintendent.  Even if the principals judge the administrator to be successful the administrator’s work must also be satisfactory to the superintendent.  In either case (i.e. the administrator is not successful with the principals, or is not successful with the superintendent) the superintendent can choose to exercise his/her authority to reassign or dismiss the administrator.
  5. It is the superintendent’s role to meet with the each central office administrator review the final score and provide feedback on performance.  At this meeting the superintendent should also discuss his/her decision regarding the administrator’s employment status (e.g. raise, probation, reassignment, non-renewal, etc.).


Sample Rating System for Central Office Administrators

Rating Description

5 This element of your administrative responsibility is fully meeting our expectations.  Invest no more time and effort than is required to maintain present status.
4 We are well satisfied with this element of your administrative responsibility.  It could use a bit more attention but not enough to worry about.
3 This element of your administrative responsibility is minimally acceptable.  Devote somewhat more time and effort to improving district performance in this area.
2 We are not happy with how the performance of this element of your administrative responsibility.  Devote considerable more time and effort to improving this function.
1 The performance of this element of your administrative responsibility is clearly not acceptable.  It must be improved.