Superintendent Chesson Gets Good Marks In Rigorous Evaluation
by Robert Stewart
School District Superintendent Laura Chesson received high marks from the School Committee for her performance during the previous year. Chesson, who is in her second year as the Superintendent of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District, received an overall rating of “proficient” on a four-step evaluation scale ranging from “Unsatisfactory” to “Exemplary.” Chesson was evaluated in four different categories developed by the Curriculum Instructional Assessment and Accountability (CIAA) subcommittee and refined by the School Committee.
The four categories used by School Committee members to evaluate Dr. Chesson’s performance were: 1) Instructional Leadership, 2) Management and Operations, 3) Family and Community Engagement, and 4) Professional Culture. The CIAA initially developed the four categories in the fall and then further refined by the School Committee.
This past spring, each School Committee member evaluated Dr. Chesson’s performance in those categories and then were combined into an overall rating for the Superintendent. In all four categories, the combined rankings of School Committee members gave Dr. Chesson a “Proficient” evaluation that resulted in an overall performance ranking of “Proficient” for her.
In the category of Instructional Leadership, all School Committee members cited Dr. Chesson’s greatest strength as her ability to tie strategic planning and initiatives to data and information.
This data focus drew high marks from all members of the School Committee. Most School Committee members also gave high marks to Dr. Chesson for her leadership ability which led to measurable results in several different areas in administration and instruction. Members noted in
the evaluation that Dr. Chesson’s team building efforts led to greater stability in the administration of the School District, a stronger teacher evaluation system and the implementation of creative curriculum initiatives like UDL (Universal Design Learning) and Flex Block scheduling. The area cited most often for improvement by School Committee members was in communication with the public and, in particular, communicating complex ideas to the community.
In the category Management and Operations, School Committee members identified Dr. Chesson’s greatest strength as her ability to handle a tremendous amount of change brought on external efficiency audits which presented difficult challenges for the School District. School Committee members noted that that many recommended changes were implemented with little negative impact on the District’s performance. An area that some School Committee members noted could use improvement was for the Superintendent to take a stronger role in explaining budget decisions based on school priorities.
In evaluating Dr. Chesson’s performance under the Family and Community Engagement category, School Committee members noted a significant improvement over the previous year and gave her high marks for managing communications during difficult situations by providing honest, fair, and accurate information regardless of the topic or controversy. When it came to the category of Professional Culture nearly all School Committee members pointed to her willingness to manage conflict head-on and to “Own” the results regardless of outcome. This was particularly true within the District.
School Committee Chair Marlena Gilbert stated she believed the evaluation was a fair representation of Dr. Chesson’s performance during the past year. She commented, “I believe the Summative School Committee Evaluation is an accurate and true representation of our Board’s perspective of Dr. Chesson’s quality work as well as any area of which she can improve.”