Good Governance for School Boards: Trustee Professional Development Program

Read Trustee Professional Development Program

Module 5a: Performance Review: Director of Education

  • assist the board of trustees and the director of education in developing a policy for the performance review of the director of education;
  • ensure that the policy provides for conducting the performance review using a collaborative and agreed upon process.

“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”



As Chief Education Officer and Chief Executive Officer of the board, the director of education provides leadership for growth in student achievement and well-being as well as leadership in the growth and success of the organization. The director has leadership responsibilities for implementing the elected board’s multi-year strategic plan and for developing and maintaining an effective organization with programs and services that operationalize the board’s policies. While student achievement results will vary from school board to school board, the director’s Performance Review process will focus on the effective strategies and leadership practices the director has employed to implement the board’s multi-year strategic plan.

169.1 (1) Every board shall,

(h) monitor and evaluate the performance of the board’s director of education or the supervisory officer acting as the board’s director of education, in meeting,

(i) his or her duties under this Act or any policy, guidelines or regulation made under the multi-year plan … required in Section 169.1 (1) (f), and

(ii) any other duties assigned by the board. (Education Act, Ontario)

When the review process for the performance of the director is well structured and effectively conducted, the outcomes are clear. The process will:

  • benefit the students and school system,
  • ensure accountability,
  • enhance the relationship between the director and the elected board,
  • recognize the contribution of the director,
  • assist the district school board in providing quality educational service, and
  • model the importance of continuous improvement throughout the district school board

The Performance Review Process is designed to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Ensure accountability for the effective leadership and management of the school system;
  • Provide the director with concrete feedback from the elected board on his/her performance to be used as a basis for his/her personal development in the role.

The main intent of the process is to provide helpful, objective feedback to the director in order to optimize future performance.

The Director’s Performance Review process parallels the Board Self-Assessment Process. (See Part B of this Module)


Each board of trustees is expected to develop a policy outlining a process for the performance review of the director. The policy should be approved by the elected board before implementing any performance review process. The following principles offer a sound basis for the development of a board policy:

  • It benefits students based on the shared responsibility of the director and the elected board for improving student achievement;
  • It strengthens the organization, making it more cohesive, viable, accountable and proactive in serving the needs of students and the broader school board community;
  • It is based on the director’s job description and clearly aligned with the annual goals of the board’s multi-year strategic plan. (Module 3 – Roles and Responsibilities encourages elected boards to develop a policy for the director’s job description and provides a template job description);
  • It is conducted on an annual basis, involving all members of the board;
  • It is founded on quantitative and qualitative evidence (data) agreed upon in advance by the board of trustees and the director and collected for the purpose of informing the performance review process;
  • It is a mutual learning opportunity to affirm successful practices and to improve areas of identified need;
  • It is results-oriented and reflects a continuous improvement focus for both the director and the school board;
  • It is characterized throughout by a process that is well understood and communicated to stakeholders while respecting the confidentiality of individual inputs and findings within the professional process of the conduct of the review; and
  • It provides a structured opportunity for the director to receive feedback and it identifies concerns in a timely and supportive way to facilitate resolution.


The board of trustees is encouraged to consider the following elements of an effective performance review process when developing or reviewing a policy:

  • Clear rationale and objectives for the process, including context;

  • Legal requirements and confidential reference to the director’s contract with the elected board;

  • Clear process steps and timeline, with agreement of the full board of trustees and in collaboration with the director, at the beginning of the Review year;

    Effective elements of a process might address:

    • what will be assessed (using the job description of the director of education) and what criteria will be used such as annual goals;
    • what specific evidence (data) will be collected;
    • who will be involved and how it will be
    • collected; and
    • a description of the end of year process that
    • will include approval of a written report by
    • the board of trustees.

    Using a skilled facilitator to assist with the process may be beneficial to both boards and directors.

  • Written report that is objective, based on the agreed evidence gathered, and includes areas for focus/improvement in the year ahead;

  • An effective process for discussing and dealing with any disagreement between the board of trustees and the director on the process or the written report.


Within the context of the requirements set out in legislation, Ministry of Education policy and guidelines, and the director’s local job description, the core leadership practices which form the basis of the director’s performance review are:

1. Setting Goals
This capacity refers to working with others to help ensure that goals are strategic, specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound (SMART) and lead to improved teaching and learning.

2. Aligning Resources with Priorities
This capacity focuses on ensuring that financial, capital, human resources, curriculum and teaching resources, professional learning resources and program allocations are tied to priorities, with student achievement and well-being as the central, unambiguous focus.

3. Promoting Collaborative Learning Cultures
This capacity is about enabling schools, school communities and districts to work together and to learn from each other with a central focus on improved teaching quality and student achievement and well-being.

4. Using Data
This capacity is about leading and engaging school teams in gathering and analyzing provincial, district, school and classroom data to identify trends, strengths and weaknesses that will inform specific actions for improvement focused on teaching and learning.

5. Engaging in Courageous Conversations
This capacity relates to challenging current practices and fostering innovation through conversation, to listen and to act on feedback, and to provide feedback that will lead to improvements in student achievement and well-being.

These core leadership capacities are outlined in the Ontario Leadership Framework (revised 2013) A School and System Leader’s Guide to Putting Ontario’s Leadership Framework into Action and are aligned with the work of the Ministry of Education and school boards. (

In each of these categories, The Ontario Leadership Framework expands on practices which demonstrate skills, knowledge and attitudes essential to effective system leadership. Performance review of the director is tied to these leadership practices.

In each of Ontario’s four publicly funded school systems, the director’s job description and expectations with regard to leadership practices will also be influenced by the unique mandate, missions and values that characterize those systems. In a Catholic school board, for instance, there will be a focus on Catholic faith, community and culture. A French-language school board will have an expanded focus on community capacity-building related to sustainability of French language and culture.


The performance of the director is affected by individual competencies and efforts, and also by the conditions and demographics of the district. The director performance review process should be designed to allow for the flexibility to recognize these individual circumstances and needs.

One of the most significant aspects of the director performance review process is the open communication, collaboration and discussion that leads to “an agreed upon process.” This collaborative approach allows both the director and the board of trustees to be clear about all aspects of the process before the director performance review process begins. There should be no surprises for either the director or the elected board. The director performance review process culminates with a report from the chair that is written on behalf of the entire board of trustees and approved by the board. The report recognizes the director’s accomplishments and identifies future areas for emphasis and development.