Education Super gets good review

State Superintendent of Education John White got a positive job review Wednesday from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Chas Roemer, president of the board, said the superintendent got the second-highest rating of four — effective/proficient, which is defined as meeting between 75 percent and 99 percent of goals.

The ratings range from 1 to 4, with 1 being the lowest — ineffective — and 4 being the highest — highly effective.

White said later in the day that, with one category still unfinished, his overall rating was 3.15.

Roemer made his comments after BESE met behind closed doors for nearly two hours to discuss White’s job performance.

The superintendent has held the job for about one year, and the review was the first of its kind since he took the job.

“It wasn’t an easy conversation,” White said.

“It is not easy to listen to people talk about your performance,” he said. “At the same time, I know that it needs to happen. It is an important part of being a professional.”

The superintendent recommends and carries out policies for about 712,000 public school students statewide.

White, who is paid $275,000 per year, would have been eligible for a $16,500 pay raise under the original terms of his contract.

But the agreement was amended last year when, under legislative pressure, White agreed to forgo any such increase unless rank-and-file state employees got a pay boost, too, which they did not.

Disappointing state revenue collections sparked a wide range of financial problems in 2012, including reductions in state aid to colleges and universities.

White presided over the education agency during some of the most sweeping public school changes in state history, including an expanded voucher program, new rules for public school teachers to earn and retain tenure and an overhaul of early childhood education.

White is Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief public school lieutenant.

He has drawn criticism from leaders of teacher unions and others who oppose the governor’s education overhaul.

The superintendent said individual BESE members filled out their views on his performance in six areas under the heading of qualitative performance.

The scores ranged from 1 to 4.

White said the averages for the six areas are:

Vision and leadership, 3.4.

Management and oversight, 3.5.

Policymaking to boost student achievement, 3.3.

Stakeholder outreach and engagement, 3.2.

Board relations and involvement, 3.4.

Relationships with BESE staff, 3.

In a part of the job review that measures quantitative growth, the superintendent got scores of 2 in improving the rate of students entering kindergarten ready to learn and a 2 in students arriving in the ninth grade on time and on grade level.

He got a 4 in the area of students arriving in the fourth grade on time and ready to learn.

Unfinished is the state’s latest high school graduation rate, which is due in February.

Those results are not expected to have any major effect on the overall evaluation.

Roemer, who lives in Baton Rouge, said White got generally good reviews, but there is room for improvement.

White said that, while BESE members were generally complimentary of his outreach to teachers and parents, they suggested that he work closer with professional education associations.

The superintendent said late last year that Louisiana’s two largest teacher unions — the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators — are hindering efforts to improve student achievement.

Leaders of the groups disputed the criticism.

White said he plans individual meetings with some members of BESE to review their scoring sheets, including Lottie Beebe, of Breaux Bridge, who is a frequent critic. She is the incoming superintendent of St. Martin Parish schools.