Category Archives: Assistant Superintendent Search

Teacher Competency Tests

This story grabbed my attention a few months ago.

A Georgia grand jury indicted 35 educators for a massive cheating scheme in Atlanta public schools which allegedly involved a former superintendent, Beverly Hall, and as many as 178 teachers. reported on March 29:  “Among those also indicted were four of Hall’s executive administrators, six principals, two assistant principals, six testing coordinators, 14 teachers, a school improvement specialist and a school secretary. ”   Standardized test answers were changed to improve overall scores.

Stories like this make me despair of our country’s moral fiber, but a more positive response is anger.  Every student and parent in the Atlanta school system should be fighting mad because they have been cheated by their teachers and school administrators who were more interested in their own objectives than that of their charges.

A scandal so large leads you to wonder where else this could be happening.  Sure enough, “Teaching How to Cheat,” in says,  “A September 19, 2011, ProPublica story titled  ‘ “America’s Most Outrageous Teacher Cheating Scandals” ‘ describes serious student testing irregularities at both the grade and high school level occurring in eight states and the District of Columbia.”

Some might remember a 2001 scandal that involved 52 teachers from five states who each paid $1,000 for a ringer to write their teacher’s competency exam.  I think these scandals are related even though they are a dozen years apart.  The less competent a teacher, the more he or she might feel tempted to fudge a student’s results.

In our district, I do not have the slightest reason to think anything but the best of our teachers and their ethics, but it did start me thinking about what’s involved in teacher certification in New Hampshire and the nature of those competency exams.  New Hampshire accepts teacher certification from many other states, something that’s called certification reciprocity.  Since photo ID is now required to write the competency exams, this isn’t as alarming as it once would have been. What did unsettle me was learning that New Hampshire allows teachers to qualify for certification if they fail one of the three competency exams in reading, writing and math so long as their composite score is equal to a passing score on all three.  In other words, a teacher could be a dunce in math but a star in writing and still become a certified teacher.  (Candidates must also pass a subject specific competency test for their subject area.)

Here’s a survey of teacher competency test requirements among 11 states as of 2010.

Meanwhile, there has been some heartening news in our district.

  • NECAP scores have rallied, a cause for guarded optimism.
  • Dr. Metzler has announced that SAU personnel will no longer be getting an across-the-board raise every year and instead raises will be based on job performance.
  • The SAU board has announced the ‘nomination’ of Dr. Roxanne Wilson for Assistant Superintendent.  She is currently the Director of Pupil Personnel Services.

May the sacrifice of many soldiers past and present be in our thoughts this Memorial Day weekend. We know all too well there is no cheating death.


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Filed under Assistant Superintendent Search, School Board Issues

Hire now, figure out job later: Sounds like a plan

The SAU board has made an art of grasping an issue squarely by the shoulders, looking into its eyes, and then failing to say a word to it.  Last night was a masterful example. I attended the March 27th SAU meeting to hear discussion on agenda items “Assistant Superintendent Position,” “Policies (CBI, CBI-R and BBBH),” “Superintendent’s Evaluation Process.”

There was much discussion of limiting the employment search to internal candidates or opening it up more broadly. Thankfully,  Mr. Barczak’s comment that a quality internal candidate will rise to the top even with a broader regional search (without the expense of a search agency) won the discussion. With this, Dr. Metzler and his staff are free to advertise the position and solicit candidates.  Just one problem. No one has defined the role and responsibilities of the new Assistant Superintendent, a topic the board so skillfully danced around it would have been comical had it been less important.** Will the new Assistant Superintendent be an “Acting Superintendent” for Hampstead as Mr. Feneberg is, or will the position revert to its original function?  Who knows?  Dr. Metzler intimated at the meeting that the role may be determined by the winning candidate’s skill set. Forgive me, but does this seem backwards to you?  Don’t you know what needs to get done and then hire the best person to perform that function? As I see it, the SAU board’s delicacy about the political issue with Hampstead trumps good management.

There was also long discussion on who should evaluate the Assistant Superintendent — the SAU Board, the Superintendent, or some combination of the two.  Current policy BBH (Organization and Operation of the School Administrative Unit School Board) mentions evaluating only the Superintendent, but Procedure Code CBI-R (Evaluation of the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent) states that the SAU board will evaluate both positions annually.  No decision was reached but the consensus I perceived makes me think that when the next draft of the policy and procedure documentation is circulated, the Superintendent will be charged with evaluating the Assistant Superintendent with input from the SAU board.  We’ll see.

I worry that I am seeing a pattern here in which an indecisive board passes off many of its primary responsibilities to our new Superintendent.  Dr. Metzler is both capable and energetic so under his direction this may not be bad in practice, but it is ill-advised for the SAU board to formally divest itself of so much of its function. Hire now and let Dr. Metzler define a function later is a good example of this. [See note that follows]

**Update:  Dr. Metzler has pointed out that the candidate search will be done with the current and unchanged job description.  I welcome and appreciate the feedback, but it does not answer the question of the future Assistant’s actual role.


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Filed under Assistant Superintendent Search, SAU 55 Issues

“Don’t listen to rumors” and other wisdom

I suppose I should be flattered that my March 18th posting that urged the SAU Board to consider doing without an Assistant Superintendent was hailed by one member of the public at last night’s SAU meeting as evidence that the SAU Board was actually thinking of this.  Though they should, they weren’t and aren’t; nevertheless, this misrepresentation of my blog did not prevent a board member from cautioning the public about listening to rumors and blogs. Let me give that board member some helpful advice, too:  don’t use a third party’s interpretation to slander a perfectly good blog.

One other word of advice for this board member:  don’t think the voters stupid.  When discussion arose about the citizen’s petition that passed concerning the SAU budget, this same board member said that voters will not understand that the SAU budget is now a stand alone budget.  Few voters follow budget issues, she said, and many will automatically vote “No” when they see another request for money on the school ballot.

Voters understood the issue well enough to vote in favor of the petition, and a complicated petition it was as the law required it to be expressed in dense legalese.  Now that the SAU budget will stand alone, voters will see the cost of this administrative layer.  Could this be the real worry?

Previous posts:   Do we need a new assistant superintendent?

SAU budget petition:


Filed under Assistant Superintendent Search, SAU petition