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Judgment and Problem Analysis

Judgment and Problem Analysis Philosophy Statement
          Of all the competency areas, judgment and problem analysis, in my opinion, represents one of the most crucial skill sets for superintendents.  Without the ability to engage in effective problem solving, a superintendent will encounter roadblocks they will be unable to overcome.  It is my philosophy that superintendents need to have a framework for problem-solving and must strive to engage in collaborative problem solving with their staff.
          According to Allen and Graden (2002), "problem solving refers to the systematic approach used to conceptualize a problem situation and identify needs, analyze factors contributing to the problem situation, design strategies to meet those needs, and implement and evaluate the strategies" (cited in St. Croix River Education District, n.d., n.p.).  As a superintendent, I plan to utilize a five-step problem-solving process: problem identification, problem analysis, plan development, plan implementation and plan evaluation.  This framework can be applied to any type of problem - individual student, class-wide, school-wide, or systems-level.  The following important questions should be considered at each step to help guide the process (St. Croix River Education District, n.d.):

  • Problem Identification:  What is the discrepancy between what is expected and what is occurring?
  • Problem Analysis:  Why is the problem occurring?
  • Plan Development:  What is the goal?  What is the intervention plan to address this goal?  How will progress be monitored?
  • Plan Implementation:  How will implementation integrity be ensured?
  • Plan Evaluation:  Is the intervention plan effective?

To engage in effective problem solving, one must work systematically through these five steps.  When careful attention is not paid to the guiding questions above, decisions may not result in the desired outcomes.  For example, a rushed, incomplete problem analysis can lead to the development and implementation of an ineffective plan.  This can be time-consuming and frustrating for those involved.  As a result, it is important for the problem-solving process to involve the key players in the situation and be collaborative in nature whenever possible.   
          Utilizing a collaborative approach to problem-solving is beneficial because it can promote teacher ownership in the decision, as well as instill strong problem-solving skills in staff.  According to Zimmerman (2006), "by providing opportunities for teacher collaboration and participation in decision making, principals and other school leaders can also develop a supportive culture for change" (p. 242).  In addition, Short and Greer (2002) believe that shared decision-making can create teachers who are effective problem solvers and a culture where teachers are willing to try new ideas and strategies.  It is important to mention that a collaborative approach to problem-solving may not be appropriate at all times.  For example, a superintendent should not use this approach when they need to maintain some control over the outcome of the collaboration, when they need to make a quick decision, or when this level of staff involvement is inappropriate given the nature of the decision.  Overall, however, I prefer the collaborative problem-solving model as a superintendent.
          Superintendents are presented with a wide-range of problems on a daily basis and are expected to come up with wise decisions and innovative solutions.  As a result, it is important for superintendents to be critical thinkers, who have solid judgment and who can carefully analyze a problem.  In my future role as a superintendent, I plan to utilize the five-step problem-solving process as a framework for my decision making and will try to encourage and engage in collaborative problem solving with my staff whenever possible.

Short, P. & Greer, J. (2002). Leadership in empowered schools: Themes from innovative efforts. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

St. Croix River Education District (n.d.). Problem solving model. Retrieved on June 9, 2019, from:

Zimmerman, J. (2006). Why some teachers resist change and what principals can do about it. NASSP Bulletin 90(3), 238-249.

E. Judgment and Problem Analysis

  1. demonstrate knowledge of how to balance varied and competing interests to assure the mission and vision of the school district is carried forward.


The following artifacts demonstrate my competency in the area of judgment and problem analysis:

This artifact demonstrates my knowledge of how to balance varied and competing interests to assure the mission and vision of the school district is carried forward (E1). During my superintendent field experience, I was able to attend an all staff meeting where my field experience supervisor shared out the results of the district's rebranding campaign. It was interesting to hear the process they want through to create a new logo, tagline, and mission statement. I have learned a lot from my field experience supervisor regarding balancing all of the varied and competing interests that come across a superintendent's desk and have gotten to see first hand how a superintendent can use the mission of a district to provide focus and clarity in these situations.

This artifact demonstrates my knowledge of how to balance varied and competing interests to assure the mission and vision of the school district is carried forward (E1). During my superintendent field experience, I was able to discuss with my field experience supervisor a tool he created to document all of the annual tasks that need to occur across the different aspects of his superintendent position from board meetings to committee meetings to administrative duties. This was a very helpful document to review as it gave me a better sense of what occurs on an annual basis at the school district level and how a superintendent might balance all of these task demands in a strategic and systematic way.

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