Writing performance objectives
- The performance agreement should contain between 4-8 objectives which are improvement focused and consistent with the school charter and goals.
- Remember the more objectives the more work for the principal, so be mindful of the workload created.
- This "SMARTER" model is useful in creating performance objectives. Consider each objective according to the criteria.
SMARTER CRITERIA: How to make objectives "SMARTER"
Specific - What is the specific objective?
Outline in a clear statement what is required. Include a description of a precise or specific behaviour, achievement, or outcome. Describe actions that need to be done in order to achieve this.
Measurable - How can the objective be evaluated?
Include a measure to enable you to monitor progress and to know when the object has been achieved. Consider: how will I know the change has occurred?
Achievable - Is the objective feasible?
Objectives can be designed to be challenging but feasible. Consider whether with a reasonable amount of effort and application the objective is achievable.
Realistic - Are sufficient resources available?
Focus on outcomes rather than the means of achieving them.
You will need to know:
- Do they have the necessary skills to do the task well? Is training required?
- Is there funding/resources/support/time?
Time-Bound - What are the start and end dates?
Agree to the date by which the outcomes must be achieved.
Educational - Does this affect teaching and learning?
Goals should be focused on improving teaching and learning. That is the focus of the principal's job. Not completing a building project, fundraising or involvement in community groups, unless that links with improved teaching and learning.
Relevant to school objectives - Does this fit with the strategic goals, charter and annual plan?
The performance objectives should relate to strategic objectives in the annual plan. If a strategic goal is "80% of students who started the school as 5 year old's will be 'at' or 'above' the National standard by the time they get to the end of Year 4, the principal's goals should reflect this.
PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVE EXAMPLES: The good…the bad… the unclear…
Although most boards are aware of the benefits of using "SMARTER" objectives, many schools fail in practice, using objectives which are unclear, hard to measure, already included in professional standards, or undemanding.
The following lists poor objectives which are not "SMARTER" and explains why they fail to meet the criteria
Objective - "Develop an inclusive school culture"
Why it's not "SMARTER" - It's vague. What constitutes an inclusive school culture? How can you measure if it's inclusive? Also, as this is included in the principal's professional standards, it's unnecessary to repeat it in the objectives. Also, it's not linked to learning or teaching.
Objective - "Meet the needs of all students"
Why it's not "SMARTER" - Again, it's vague. Which needs? How to decide what the needs are? How will you know if the needs have been met? When should these "needs" be met? Tomorrow? Next year? Six months?
Objective - "Ensure all teachers have good performance management and professional development"
Why it's not "SMARTER" - While this is important to learning and teaching, it should already be part of the principal's good management of the school and staff as covered in the professional standards. It is also too general and not goal focused.
The following lists some "SMARTER" objectives as a guideline:
SMARTER Objectives - "The principal will mentor the senior leadership team to moderate the National Standards overall teacher judgement"
Why it's "SMARTER" - This is specific and focussed on increasing teacher understanding of National Standards expectations, which should contribute to learning outcomes.
SMARTER Objectives - "To increase the number of NCEA excellence awards by 30% and decrease the number of standards not achieved by 30% by next year"
Why it's "SMARTER" - This is learning and improvement focused, specific, related to school objectives, measurable and time-bound.