Jennifer Pignolet, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson is doing an overall suitable job leading the district, according to board members.
The board rated Hopson a 3.56 out of 5 on his annual evaluation of the 2016-17 school year, a slight uptick from the 3.51 score he received for the previous academic year.
Anything between a 3 and a 4 is considered “at or above expectations,” according to the evaluation, presented to the school board Tuesday night.
“It confirms what I know from our own working relationship that you are the right person for this job,” board member Scott McCormick, who is the chairman of the evaluation committee, said.
The high scores came despite the district being ranked a 1 out of 5 in academic achievement by the state for that school year.
On the section of Hopson’s evaluation titled “Student Achievement,” board members awarded him a 3.65. The survey asked board members questions like whether Hopson “develops, implements, promotes, and monitors continuous improvement in student achievement” but did not ask a question directly tied to achievement results.
Over the last five years, however, the district has decreased the number of schools performing in the bottom 5 percent in the state.
Of the 82 schools currently ranked in the bottom 5 percent, 42 of them are in Shelby County. That’s a drop from 54 schools two years ago and from 69 schools in 2012, although some schools on that list six years ago have since closed.
Board members commented that Hopson is “committed to Destination 2025 Goals” which sets benchmarks in areas like literacy, graduation rate and college readiness, and that he is “making strides” on the district’s academic plan.
The district has stabilized financially under Hopson’s leadership, although at times with deep cuts at the expense of students and teachers. The district is now, however, in its second year of proposing investments instead of cuts.
Hopson’s stronger marks came in community relationships, where board members gave an average mean score of 4.31. His weakest area was relationships with staff, with a 3.38 score.
The evaluation was Hopson’s first since November 2016. The evaluations are usually done in the fall, but the 2016-17 review was delayed due to complications with hiring an outside consultant to conduct the evaluation.
Hopson, a former school system attorney, was named interim superintendent in early 2013 following former superintendent Kriner Cash’s decision to step down. He served as interim superintendent until the school board voted to end a national search and pick him as superintendent in September 2013.
The board awarded Hopson with a raise in December. He now makes $285,000 a year. There was no talk Tuesday of any pay increases based on his evaluation.
Only eight out of nine board members submitted their evaluations of Hopson. A district spokeswoman said she did not know which board member neglected to turn in his or her form.
Board member Kevin Woods said he was happy to see two areas of previous concern, communication and evaluation tools for employees, have improved.
“Are you perfect, no, but pretty close,” he said.
Hopson said he appreciated the board members’ comments.
“We have accomplished a lot over the last five years, but we’ve got a long way to go,” he said.