Principal Grading System Matrix: Needs Further Testing

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Dr. Desmond Blackburn

By: Sharon Aron Baron

A grading system created by Chief of School Performance & Accountability and Area Superintendent, Dr. Desmond Blackburn, has been criticized as controversial by many people and creating a firestorm of parents who will protest at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Thursday afternoon.

Could this matrix system of grading principals be part of getting his doctoral dissertation in philosophy? According to his profile on Linkedin:

As a part of his doctoral dissertation, he not only created Socio-Cultural Leadership, but developed a reliable and valid survey instrument designed to measure principals’ performance around Socio-Cultural Leadership’s traits.

Certainly, Broward County Schools isn’t basing the fate of 20 Principals on a survey created by someone as part of their dissertation to get their PhD in Philosophy? Why would they trust a method so new and not proven?

As the Executive Director of Broward Principals’ and Assistants’ Association (BPAA), Lisa Maxwell states she still is baffled about this unfair treatment of Principal Collado and the others who were victims of this unfair grading system that is being used by the school district.

According to Maxwell, Dr. Blackburn’s office created the new matrix which ranks each principal in the district. Using the bottom 25 percent (approximately 50 principals), he has determined that the principals ranked at the bottom are “poor performing” or “low performing’ individuals. The criteria he chose to use to create the ranking is:

  1. A principal’s VAM or value added model score
  2. Answers to the question, ‘does my principal care about my needs on the student customer satisfaction survey
  3. Answers to the question “does my principal care about my needs “ on the teacher satisfaction survey
  4. The total number of complaints has principal received by the area director, and for which the area director became involved; i.e., had a meeting, made a call, etc..

Maxwell stated that supposedly, these complaints do not include BTU complaints, but that is unclear. Obviously, this criterion is nonscientific, biased, subjective and frankly nonsensical. Many principals on the list had very high VAM scores and were rated highly effective at midyear on the BASA instrument.

Despite Maxwell’s repeated discussions with the District regarding the fact that the BPAA does not believe this is a just or legal process, the district is moving forward.

Blackburn, who earned a reported $169,000 from Broward Schools in 2010 also works on the side as a consultant for D & G Leadership which states on its websites: Socio-Cultural Leadership: The art of restructuring schools through researched-based principal leadership. It states on the website to contact us for service prices.

I asked School Board Member Abby Freedman today about the validity of the Matrix testing and she had no comment.

The rally at Marjory Stoneman High School attracted hundreds of parents and students.  Students walked out of class and peacefully demonstrated their support for the principal at 2 pm on Thursday in front of the school where Broward Sheriff’s Office was watching out for the safety of the protesters and all of the local media was on hand to cover the event.

About Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs, Parkland and the rest of South Florida.

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  • susie simpson

    How can this man determine if his matrix is reliable and valid? He just says it and it is so? It has to be researched and peer reviewed…if people do not understand research and how to validate one’s research, they darn sure shouldn’t be leading a school district. ANd btw, our schools aren’t guinea pigs for your theories.