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Board gives Medford superintendent four major goals for year

The Medford School Board has set four lofty goals for Superintendent Phil Long — and he'll be evaluated on how well he achieves them this academic year.

The board will require Long to focus on increasing communication within the district and community, eliminating the achievement gap between traditional students and those learning English or in special education, increasing the high school graduation rate, and extending student learning beyond proficiency, board Chairwoman Paulie Brading said Tuesday.

"We think that by having measurable goals for the superintendent, this year's evaluation is going to be a much more accurate reflection of his performance," she said. "These goals will be something that the community can follow and let us know if we're meeting them."

The board doesn't expect Long to achieve all of the goals this year, but it will require him to make marked progress toward the four standards, Brading said.

"We want to see what movement has been made toward each of the goals," she said. "We know you can't accomplish something like this in nine or 10 months, so this is really more like a three- or five-year plan."

Brading will meet with Long in the coming days to further define each of the four goals and set guidelines for measuring growth.

The board agreed on the goals at its annual retreat Friday and Saturday, she said.

Long said achieving the goals will be difficult, but he looks forward to the challenge.

"This is all daunting work in a hard economic time, but it's the work that we're committed to do," he said.

The district's high school graduation rate, for example, is below the state average — something that is unacceptable, Brading said.

"Personally, as a board member, I'm not satisfied with that," she said. "I'd really like to see us accomplish more than that."

During the 2009-10 academic year, the most recent year numbers are available, 62 percent of district students graduated from high school in four years, compared with 66 percent statewide, Long said. The Oregon Department of Education will release last year's graduation numbers in April.

"We're very curious about what those numbers will be," Long said. "We're chasing the state right now, trying to overcome that state average and beat it."

The four goals also will become districtwide initiatives, which administrators, teachers and educational assistants will be expected to pursue this academic year, Brading said.

"That can take many forms and we'll leave it up to the creativity of the staff," she said. "I imagine we're going to see some very interesting ideas emerge to help us with these."

This is the first year Long will be evaluated solely on the board's goals. In past years, he was evaluated using a form based on an Oregon School Boards Association document. The board evaluates Long throughout the year and typically completes the process in May.

"We're hoping that strategic leadership will lead to students progressing even faster than they are now," Brading said.

Reach reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-776-4459 or email hguzik@mailtribune.com.