Study Guide

Field 225: Superintendent
Sample Multiple-Choice Questions

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Each multiple-choice question has four answer choices. Read each question and its answer choices carefully and choose the ONE best answer.

During the test you should try to answer all questions. Even if you are unsure of an answer, it is better to guess than not to answer a question at all. You will NOT be penalized for choosing an incorrect response.

Objective 0001
Understand the collaborative development and implementation of a shared vision, mission, and core values to promote continuous and sustainable improvement in students' achievement and growth.

1. A new superintendent is having difficulty recruiting parents/guardians and other community members to serve on a committee to help develop a new district vision. Which of the following steps by the new superintendent is likely to be most effective in motivating community members to join the committee?

  1. recruiting faculty to the committee who have a history of positive relations with parents/guardians and the community
  2. establishing clear procedures for the new committee that will ensure that members have a voice in and can affect committee decision making
  3. surveying community members to determine their current perceptions about the district's responsiveness to community input
  4. establishing a schedule of activities for the committee that will ensure that committee members' workload and time commitment will be relatively light
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
(Objective 0001) Gaining stakeholder input when developing a vision is critical for ensuring that the vision drives the work of the district. When balancing work obligations and caring for children, parents and guardians are prioritizing how they use their time. For this reason, they need to know that their commitment of time will be meaningful. By communicating the impact the vision writing committee will have on the completed document, and making it clear that parent and guardian voices will be heard, the superintendent is improving chances of recruiting members to the writing committee.

Objective 0002
Understand how to lead change and engage in collaborative, data-driven planning and decision making to improve student learning outcomes.

2. A superintendent has led a team of stakeholders in creating a new district improvement plan. During the process, the superintendent emphasized the importance of using data to drive the selection, implementation, and monitoring of each goal in the plan. One of the district's goals is related to improved student achievement in mathematical problem solving. In order to monitor the effect of the improvement plan on student achievement in this area, the team must take which of the following actions first?

  1. observing classrooms where instruction in mathematical problem solving is taking place
  2. collecting baseline data on students' performance in mathematical problem solving
  3. interpreting survey data regarding teachers' views on improving mathematical problem solving
  4. creating a series of quarterly assessments focused on students' mathematical problem solving
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
(Objective 0002) Improvement planning driven by data analysis is an effective strategy. Using data eliminates the possibility of personal opinions, popular trends, or political pressures from driving decisions that affect the school district. To effectively use data to monitor a plan's impact, the district must understand the starting point. By collecting baseline data on students' current mathematics performance, the district will be provided information that can be measured against future assessments to determine the impact of improvement goal activities on student achievement.

Objective 0002
Understand how to lead change and engage in collaborative, data-driven planning and decision making to improve student learning outcomes.

3. A recently hired superintendent has had many meetings with the school board, district faculty, and community stakeholders to learn about the district and its current strengths and challenges. One common theme emerging from these meetings involves the need for local schools to do more to reach out to families. The superintendent has decided to create a district-level committee with representatives from multiple stakeholder groups to develop a set of recommendations to address this issue. Which of the following steps taken by the superintendent would best help ensure success in implementing the committee's recommendations?

  1. setting aside funds in the district budget for any additional resources that may facilitate implementation of the recommendations
  2. leading a comprehensive review of current district goals and policies regarding parent/guardian and community involvement with the schools
  3. providing ample opportunity for teachers and staff to gain an understanding of the committee's goals and why changes are needed
  4. conducting an analysis of school- and district-level data on the current frequency and types of parent/guardian involvement with the schools
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
(Objective 0002) Research has demonstrated that the active involvement of parents/guardians in their child's education has a profound impact on school success. Parent/guardian involvement works best when a partnership exists with the school. The school must be active in the partnership, and must seek to involve families. Family outreach does not happen without a conscious effort on the part of school staff. For the staff to be involved, it must understand what outreach efforts are being proposed and why. With this information, staff members are more likely to be positive contributors to the effort.

Objective 0003
Understand the political, social, economic, legal, and cultural contexts of education and how to respond to these contexts, including working effectively with the district governing body.

4. According to Illinois state law, local school boards have sole responsibility for:

  1. establishing the basic standards for the curriculum taught in district schools.
  2. hiring and dismissing the district superintendent.
  3. overseeing the work of noninstructional district managers (e.g., chief school business officer).
  4. negotiating contracts with district administrators.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
(Objective 0003) According to Illinois law, the local school board has very specific responsibilities. With regard to personnel issues, the board is expected to develop policies for the superintendent to use to oversee the hiring, evaluation, and dismissing of district staff. The only personnel matters in which the school board becomes involved are those regarding the superintendent. By law, the board is charged with hiring, evaluating the performance of, and dismissing the superintendent.

Objective 0003
Understand the political, social, economic, legal, and cultural contexts of education and how to respond to these contexts, including working effectively with the district governing body.

5. A district superintendent is preparing a budget for the next school year. The proposed budget will be presented to the school board at a public meeting. Which of the following actions would be most appropriate for the superintendent to take in order to enlist the school board's support in gaining acceptance for the proposed budget?

  1. conferring with the board while preparing the proposed budget so that the budget will reflect district goals and priorities
  2. asking key community business owners to contact school board members in support of the budget
  3. giving copies of the proposed budget to selected school board members to give them an opportunity to read it before the public meeting takes place
  4. providing the board with budget documentation from comparable districts in the state
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
(Objective 0003) Approving the district's budget is one of the most important responsibilities entrusted to the school board. An approved budget is not only important for the financial operation of the district, but it also provides a public reflection of the district's priorities. For this reason, it is vital for the superintendent to have the board's support for the district budget proposal, and the best way to do that is to confer with board members throughout the budget development process. Ongoing communication with the school board is an important goal for the superintendent.

Objective 0004
Understand how to provide instructional leadership focused on effective teaching and learning and the use of research-supported instructional practices that promote academic success for every student.

6. A district with low reading scores on a recent assessment wishes to gain a deeper understanding of what drove this result. The superintendent forms a team to review the data generated by the assessment. The goal of the team's work is to discover specific areas of weakness in the district's reading instruction. Which of the following approaches is likely to be most effective in helping the team achieve its goal?

  1. conducting an item analysis of the recent reading assessment
  2. tracking reading scores of a cohort of students for several years
  3. comparing three years of reading scores by each school
  4. reviewing reading scores for several years by subgroups
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
(Objective 0004) Analyzing assessment data is an effective strategy for determining curricular gaps and strengths. Assessment items or tasks are designed to measure the level of student understanding or mastery of specific curriculum objectives. To gain an understanding of how a group performed in any given curriculum area, one must review the items or tasks that were designed to measure mastery of that area. By analyzing individual assessment items, a team will be able to determine the curriculum areas in which students excelled and areas with which they struggled. A lack of item analysis provides only a wide view of curriculum mastery.

Objective 0004
Understand how to provide instructional leadership focused on effective teaching and learning and the use of research-supported instructional practices that promote academic success for every student.

7. A district is developing a system of student supports. So far the district has developed a process for involving families, defined three tiers of instruction, decided how students would receive more intensive intervention, and agreed on the approximate length of time a student would spend receiving intervention before being considered for movement to the next level. Which of the following additional tasks does the district need to accomplish before moving forward with the support plan?

  1. choosing specific instructional strategies to implement during intervention
  2. selecting a universal screening tool to use for identifying struggling students
  3. deciding how the system will be adapted for English language learners
  4. providing staff training on how to qualify students for special education
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
(Objective 0004) Many measurement tools can be employed to determine whether a student is achieving at a desired level. Selecting a universal screening tool provides a district with an unbiased, consistent measure of student performance. The screening tool does not need to be the only basis on which a student becomes eligible for additional support, but it does provide a means for identifying possible areas of need. Without such a tool, the criteria for receiving extra support, and for monitoring progress of support, would be inconsistent across the district.

Objective 0005
Understand the use of assessment and accountability systems to monitor students' progress and promote educational excellence.

8. A superintendent is preparing to write summative evaluation reports for the district's principals. As part of that process, the superintendent reviews student assessment data for each school. In the case of one elementary school principal's report, the superintendent finds that last year, for the first time, the school's growth scores in reading declined compared to the previous year. Given this information, which of the following actions would be most appropriate for the superintendent to take in relation to the principal's summative evaluation?

  1. including a recommendation in the summative evaluation report that the principal focus on reading instruction when observing classrooms
  2. comparing the reading achievement data from the principal's school with data from the other elementary schools in the district
  3. assigning the principal a rating of "unsatisfactory" in the area of "instructional leadership" on the summative evaluation report
  4. reviewing other information sources to determine whether the decline in reading performance is consistent
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
(Objective 0005) In this item the superintendent observes a decline in growth scores for reading in only one school year. A one-year decline could be attributed to many factors. In this situation it would be appropriate to review other data to understand if the one year of decline is of concern. In future years, if the decline becomes a pattern, the superintendent could consider a recommendation that the principal take steps to address the issue.

Objective 0005
Understand the use of assessment and accountability systems to monitor students' progress and promote educational excellence.

9. A superintendent is reviewing state assessment data that have just become available to the district. One issue that the superintendent notices in the review is that students with special needs scored lower than they have in previous years. Which of the following would be most important for the superintendent to ask district educators first as a result of this discovery?

  1. Were all of the accommodations for which students were eligible delivered during testing?
  2. Have students with special needs been instructed in proper test-taking strategies?
  3. Has there been a change in the number of staff to support students with special needs?
  4. What was the level of absenteeism among students with special needs during testing?
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
(Objective 0005) By law, students with a disability who qualify for special education services should be given accommodations in all areas of the school to make learning accessible. These accommodations are administered during regular instruction as well as during assessment situations. When analyzing reasons for students with special needs performing poorly, it would be logical to first ensure that all accommodations had been provided to the students. Without accommodations the students would be at a disadvantage.

Objective 0006
Understand how to develop the professional capacity and practice of teachers and other school personnel to promote each student's academic success and well-being.

10. A school district has identified improvement of teacher questioning techniques as a priority instructional goal for the upcoming school year. Which of the following professional development activities by existing district teacher teams is likely to be most effective in supporting teachers in achieving the district's priority instructional goal?

  1. Team members observe questioning techniques in one another's classrooms, then meet to discuss strengths and needs.
  2. Team members read and discuss articles from professional journals about alternative teacher questioning techniques.
  3. Team members meet to discuss a lesson plan and come to agreement on appropriate questions to use during the lesson.
  4. Team members conduct surveys on questioning techniques of each district school's teachers, then discuss the results.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
(Objective 0006) When a teacher is mastering a new skill, understanding the theory behind the skill is an important step. Lacking this level of understanding will make continued learning impractical. Once an understanding of the theory is in place, one must begin to practice the skill. Through practice comes mastery. Among the choices presented in the item, only choice "A" provides the opportunity for the teachers to put the theory of questioning techniques into practice.

Objective 0006
Understand how to develop the professional capacity and practice of teachers and other school personnel to promote each student's academic success and well-being.

11. When meeting with district staff at the beginning of the school year, a superintendent reviews a set of performance standards that each staff member is expected to meet. When communicating these expectations to the staff member, the superintendent should make sure to:

  1. inform the staff member that recognition and rewards will be provided for meeting the standards.
  2. specify the consequences if the staff member fails to meet the standards.
  3. emphasize that the district will attempt to provide the resources necessary to enable the staff member to meet the standards.
  4. explain that there are procedures for modifying the standards if they prove too challenging for the staff member.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
(Objective 0006) An important component of a superintendent's job is to develop the professional capacity and practice of district faculty. To accomplish this important task, the superintendent must hold teachers accountable for meeting high standards, while providing teachers the support to be successful at meeting those standards. In this item the superintendent is communicating that concept to the staff: "We expect you to meet these performance standards, and we will support you in getting there."

Objective 0007
Understand how to establish and sustain school cultures and learning environments conducive to student learning and staff professional growth.

12. A superintendent will be assessing the learning environment in each school. One strategy the superintendent will use is to tour each building with its principal and use a checklist to determine the extent to which certain desired environmental characteristics exist in the school. Which of the following items on the superintendent's checklist is likely to provide the strongest evidence of a positive learning environment?

  1. students are actively engaged in instructional activities
  2. computer resources are distributed evenly among classrooms
  3. students pass through the halls in an orderly fashion
  4. classrooms have sufficient materials to conduct lessons
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
(Objective 0007) Observing the level of student engagement is an effective tool for measuring a school's learning environment. When students are actively engaged in their learning, they are exposed to work that is interesting at their level. They are likely working collaboratively with other students. They possibly had some level of choice in how the work was presented or how learning was measured. They have also likely developed a positive relationship with their teacher and with their classmates. All of these components are important for creating a positive learning environment, and student engagement provides evidence of these components.

Objective 0008
Understand how to communicate and collaborate with students, faculty and other staff, families, community members, and school board members; respond to diverse community interests and needs; and mobilize community resources to strengthen school programs and support school and district goals.

13. Communicating important school information is best presented by:

  1. focusing on a single topic of interest.
  2. sharing both information and opinions about a topic.
  3. writing in an informal style.
  4. reflecting a consensus of school officials.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
(Objective 0008) Communication is one of the most important aspects of a superintendent's job. The superintendent must communicate effectively with all stakeholders. Due to the wealth of information to which people are exposed each day, it is important to make any communication meaningful and succinct. Without these attributes, important information is likely to be lost. Focusing on a single topic is one way to increase the likelihood the information will be heard by stakeholders.

Objective 0008
Understand how to communicate and collaborate with students, faculty and other staff, families, community members, and school board members; respond to diverse community interests and needs; and mobilize community resources to strengthen school programs and support school and district goals.

14. A superintendent extends the district's job-shadowing and job-mentoring programs to include an apprenticeship agreement between the school district and several local businesses. This agreement allows a limited number of students in the district to develop professional-level knowledge and skills in a field by working in a business under the guidance of an expert or master in that field. The student typically spends 200 hours engaged in classroom instruction and 1,000 hours working at the business. The program's administrators could best promote the success of the apprenticeship program by making sure that:

  1. students admitted to the program have demonstrated a strong commitment to their chosen field and to completing the program.
  2. the faculty advisor to each student is a certified or licensed expert in the field in which the student is apprenticed.
  3. the school limits participation in the program to students who are academically in the top 10 percent of their class.
  4. participating businesses guarantee that they will hire those students who successfully complete their apprenticeships.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
(Objective 0008) The program described in this item requires outreach to, and cooperation from, many local businesses. Without the participation of the businesses, the program cannot succeed. Therefore, the school district needs to be sure that the students participating in the program are motivated and capable; otherwise businesses will lose interest in participating in the program.

Objective 0009
Understand organizational and operational management that supports school and district improvement and desired educational outcomes.

15. A school board asks the district superintendent to develop a five-year plan for implementing capital improvements needed at the district's schools. In developing the plan, which of the following steps should the superintendent take first?

  1. asking the principal of each school to identify and prioritize capital improvements needed at his or her school
  2. asking parents/guardians, staff, and other stakeholders to submit ideas for desired capital improvements to the district's schools
  3. reviewing projected revenues that may be available over the next five years for capital improvements to the district's schools
  4. hiring an outside consultant to inspect the district's schools and make recommendations for capital improvements
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
(Objective 0009) Developing a capital improvement plan allows the district to make financial plans and prioritize areas of need. Although current school staff and other stakeholders may be familiar with district schools, they may not have the expertise to recognize possible structural needs over cosmetic needs. Hiring an outside consultant is a way to bring in someone who is trained to inspect buildings and discover needs, someone with fresh eyes who sees issues that stakeholders familiar with the building might overlook.

Objective 0009
Understand organizational and operational management that supports school and district improvement and desired educational outcomes.

16. A district has faced budget cuts over the past five years. The administrative team believes the district cannot absorb further cuts without a significant negative impact on the academic program. The superintendent would like to use data to communicate the impact of future budget cuts to the school board and community. Which of the following data presentations would appropriately provide the most compelling argument against further budget cuts?

  1. a table showing declines in the total district budget for each of the past five years
  2. a graph indicating an upward trend in average class size due to teacher cuts
  3. a pie chart illustrating the portions dedicated to each function code in the budget
  4. a list of the various funding cuts that have been made to the budget over the past five years
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
(Objective 0009) Effective communication with all stakeholders is an important aspect of a superintendent's work. In the situation described in this item, the superintendent needs to provide information that is vital to the operation of the district. Highlighting a highly researched and easily understood concept such as class size is an effective technique for illustrating the need for maintaining the district's budget. The use of a graph is an additional communication tool to emphasize the superintendent's message.

Objective 0010
Understand financial and human resource management that supports school and district improvement and desired educational outcomes.

17. A superintendent wants to encourage parents/guardians and other members of the community to donate resources to district schools. Which of the following approaches would be most appropriate and effective for this purpose?

  1. publishing a specific list of resources needed by each school
  2. limiting the value of the resources that are donated
  3. keeping requests for resources as general as possible
  4. limiting the request to monetary donations
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
(Objective 0010) A district faced with limited resources can ask for donations from the community as one strategy to meet its needs. When seeking donations, the most effective strategy is to request specific items or dollar amounts, for a specific purpose. Lacking specificity can lead to donations of items for which the district has no use, and which would require disposal. In addition, specific request for donations are more likely to motivate stakeholders than general requests.

Objective 0010
Understand financial and human resource management that supports school and district improvement and desired educational outcomes.

18. A superintendent appoints a search committee to hire a new elementary school principal. The search committee interviews each candidate separately. The candidate makes a short statement and then responds to questions from committee members. The superintendent could best ensure that the candidates are treated equitably during their interviews by:

  1. requiring that all candidates finish their opening statements in a predetermined amount of time.
  2. instructing the committee to use the same set of questions and follow-up questions with all the candidates.
  3. explaining to all candidates the reasons for the committee's final hiring recommendations.
  4. asking the candidates to provide summaries of their statements in advance for committee review.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
(Objective 0010) School districts must follow strict legal guidelines prohibiting discrimination during the interview and hiring process. The district must ensure against asking questions that are considered discriminatory, such as asking the candidate's age, or whether they plan to become pregnant. One way to prevent these types of questions from being inadvertently asked is to give careful consideration to questions prior to the interviews taking place. This not only ensures an equitable interview process, but it also provides strong comparison data when making the hiring decision.

Objective 0011
Understand legal and ethical guidelines related to schools and education.

19. According to Illinois state law, a superintendent would be required to report which of the following incidents to local law enforcement authorities?

  1. An 18-year-old student initiates a fight with a younger student on school grounds.
  2. A sixth-grade student brings a pocketknife to school.
  3. A tenth-grade student is found to have a small amount of marijuana at school.
  4. A 15-year-old student comes to school smelling like alcohol.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
(Objective 0011) The Illinois Controlled Substance Act makes possession of marijuana illegal. For this reason, in a situation such as the one described in the item, the superintendent would have no choice but to report the incident to law enforcement. While the other choices may represent violations of school policy, or might be generate concerns worth further investigation, they do not rise to a violation of law as does the correct response.

Objective 0011
Understand legal and ethical guidelines related to schools and education.

20. Due to budget cuts, a district will be forced to eliminate three teaching positions. According to Illinois law, which of the following statements regarding the district's reduction-in-force decisions is accurate?

  1. Teachers with the least amount of seniority must be dismissed before teachers with more seniority are dismissed, regardless of annual evaluation ratings.
  2. Part-time and probationary teachers must be treated the same as full-time contractual continued service teachers regarding dismissal decisions.
  3. Any teacher with an "unsatisfactory" or "needs improvement" evaluation rating in the previous two years can be dismissed before a teacher with less seniority.
  4. Decisions about teacher dismissals are made at the discretion of the school district, regardless of either teacher evaluation ratings or seniority.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
(Objective 0011) According to Illinois School Code, districts are required to classify teachers into four categories for the purpose of "honorary dismissal." Category 1 consists of new or part-time teachers, category 2 are teachers who have received an "unsatisfactory" or "needs improvement" rating, category 3 are teachers who have received a rating of "satisfactory" or "proficient," and teachers who have been rated with "excellent" performance ratings are placed in category 4. The Code goes on to indicate that teachers are dismissed "in the order of their grouping." The correct response in the item describes a teacher in group 2 who could potentially be dismissed before a teacher in group 3 with less seniority.