Developing the Entry Plan

by ROBERT NEELY, WILLIAM BERUBE AND JERRY WILSON

Preparing an entry plan for assuming a new superintendency not only helps the new district leader better understand the prevailing conditions in the district, it serves as a guide for sharing and discussing that information with the school board, administration, staff and community.


Any superintendent about to take over the leadership of a community’s school system should carefully review the following six steps and adapt them to the circumstances in the district and to the superintendent’s style.

* No. 1: Read, study and discuss.

As part of your preparation for the job interview with the school board, you should learn as much as you can about the district. Review student enrollment and demographic data, the financial status of the district, strategic plans and goals, information about the staff and school board members, community issues, student achievement and school facilities information.

Once on the job, identify relevant documents to read, study and discuss with the district leadership and community. Study the district’s school improvement plans, school board minutes, budget and financial reports, local newspaper coverage, student achievement and test data, school accreditation reports and other annual reports.

* No. 2: Determine the population to be surveyed.

Whom do you want to consult as you learn about the new district? Identify the key communicators in your community—those respected staff, parents and community members who have something to say about the schools and whose opinions are respected by others and valued.

* No. 3: Develop a survey.

The survey will gather different types of information related to the district. Carefully consider the use of the individual interview and/or written survey to accomplish the goals of your entry plan. Consider questions that will gather information about academic standards, curriculum and programs, fiscal and human resources, climate, school improvement plans and community demographics.

Don’t overlook issues relating to the validity and reliability of the survey.

* No. 4: Administer the survey and collect the data.

Involve as many members of each stakeholder group as feasible. Teachers could be given the instrument at a staff meeting, students in their homerooms or classes, and parents at a site team meeting. The larger the sample is, the greater the probability for increased validity of the data.

Apply the highest level of available technology to the scoring and analysis of the instrument.

* No. 5: Analyze and interpret the data.

Identify the themes and trends from the raw data. Code the responses to permit the collation of similar responses to reflect the intent of the question.

* No. 6: Communicate results.

Communicate the themes and trends that have been identified to the five major audiences: the board of education, the administrative team, school district professional staff, school district support staff and the community at large. Present the information to establish baseline data to monitor the district’s future improvement progress.