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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Superintendent Background Research: Richard Faidley

Time presses. The school board is on a very fast timeline to make a decision about semi-finalists, and I don't have half the information I would like to have! I will add more as I find out more (at least for the finalists), but for now I'm just going to share a disorganized group of information, take from it what you can. For the finalists we will try to find out more information.

Superintendent Candidate Richard Faidley: Superintendent of Schools for the Derry Township School District in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Dr. Faidley holds a B.A. from Mount Marty College, M.A.’s from Iowa State and Northern Arizona University and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from University of Arizona.

His dissertation was: Do Principal Leadership Characteristics Affect Student Success on the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards?



One thing that is nice is that you can read his dissertation on the open repository link above. I skimmed it. It raises red flags for me. The first issue is that he tries to assess principals based on test scores on a student test (that is in some ways like the MEAP). That, to me, is highly problematic. As one of my co-researchers said, "there’s not only a willingness to use standardized tests but sufficient interest in testing that he wrote his dissertation on the subject." In other words, doctoral students get to choose their dissertation topics, and that's what he picked. The second issue is that he apparently believes that you can assess principals based on a student test (and I don't believe you can). The third issue is that, if you could assess principals based on a student test, I don't think you could assess principals who had only been at a school for a year or two based on student test scores--and yet he didn't exclude them from his study.

From the summary about him:


In addition to working in the Yuma Union High School District, Dr. Faidley has extensive experience in educational leadership, which includes school reform initiatives in three large school districts. Prior to working as an administrator in Yuma, Dr. Faidley served as an educational leader in the Amphitheater Public School District in Tucson, where he was Executive Director of Student Services, and as a high school principal in the Marana Unified School District in Tucson.

I get nervous when I see the words "school reform initiatives."
Other things that make me nervous about this candidate:
1. Neither Derry Township PA or Yuma AZ are anything like Ann Arbor. Derry Township has a high school population that is less than 1500! I think he will be completely unprepared for the volume and intensity of interest that people in Ann Arbor have in our schools.
2. He is only two years into a four-year contract. Why is he leaving? Today in his interview he talked about a change in the school board membership. Well that could easily happen here too--a good superintendent needs to be able to work with whatever types of boards they get.
3. Although I take the comments on annarbor.com with a grain of salt, it is unusual for someone from another district to take the trouble to comment, and someone did comment on Richard Faidley. This is what they said: From Hershey PA....as much as we would love you to take Faidley, Dont do it!!!! Run, run very fast!!
4. Today, in his interview, according to annarbor.com reporting, in response to innovative things he had done he said "“One of the best things I've done with the Hershey Medical Center is the CEO... had never been to the schools...I invited him to take a tour of our labs.... expanding the partnerships on what our schools have opportunities to participate in was tremendous. Students can now complete internships at the hospital.” Seriously? That's one of the BEST things he's done?

You can read his (rather uninspiring) tweets at: https://twitter.com/DTSDnews


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