Norwalk Schools Superintendent scores 80 out of 100 on yearly evaluation

Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski discusses test results Saturday in the Cranbury Park bunkhouse during the Board of Education’s annual retreat.

Updated, 10 a.m.: Heidi Keyes attended Saturday’s performance evaluation; 6:35 a.m., 7:44 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski has scored an 80 out of a possible 100 on an evaluation of his 2017-18 performance.

Adamowski’s score, as determined by Board of Education members, is lower than his 2016-17 score of 89.7.  Six Board of Education members reviewed Adamowski’s performance in an executive session at the recent BoE retreat.

Adamowski provided Board members calculations and documentation of his success in reaching the goals contained in the Board’s strategic operating plan.  The Board members present  – Heidi Keyes, Bruce Kimmel, Sarah LeMieux, Mike Lyons, Bryan Meek, and Barbara Meyer-Mitchell – discussed the evaluation.“The evaluation included 28 priority implementation steps. And there were 10 priority outcomes. The overwhelming majority of these goals were met. That is good work,” Kimmel said Wednesday in an email.

“If you assess the sum of all goals accomplished, you cannot deny a high level of executive achievement in the face of numerous obstacles,” Meyer-Mitchell wrote in a Wednesday e-mail.

The evaluation score will determine Adamowski’s bonus. A score of 80 to 84 will result in a bonus equal to 3 percent of Adamowski’s salary, the incentive compensation plan states; Adamowski earned $254,998 in 2017, with a bonus for 2016-17 of more than $7,000.

The priority implementation steps that were accomplished, each worth 2 points:

  • Increase high school graduation requirements to 26 credits; redesign program of study
  • In partnership with the University of Connecticut National Center for Gifted Education, redesign and possibly rename the Academically Talented (AT) program to reflect best practice, equity and cost-effectiveness based on student need.
  • Implement ‘Phase II’ of Middle School Redesign; develop and plan Phase III
  • Develop and implement a ‘real time’ District Data Dashboard to the track student outcomes in relation to the goals of the Strategic Operating Plan
  • Expand summer school Tier III intervention to the fifth grade and implement new Extended School Year (ESY) program for eligible students (in middle schools)
  • Plan a 30-minute extension in the elementary school day to begin in the 2018-19 SY
  • Develop a blended learning center at each high school to provide students with opportunities to stay on track for graduation and earn additional credits
  • Accomplish the design phase of new schools planned for the Ely and Ponus building sites
  • Implement ‘Phase III’ of student based budgeting; provide adequate high school funding to support graduation requirements
  • Develop strategic plan for Early Childhood Education
  • Complete planning and implementation of new high school ‘pathways’; new Media Pathway in partnership with CPTV; Health Sciences Pathway in partnership with Norwalk Community College and Norwalk Hospital; International Baccalaureate Diplomate; expand the Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA) to a full enrollment of 400 students
  • Implement dyslexia assessment and clinical services in partnership with Fairfield University
  • Complete and implement rigorous curriculum design, mapping and alignment in reading and math for sixth through eighth grades
  • Reduce interruption of student learning by “pull-outs” from academic subjects – Academically Talented program, band instrument lessons, strings lessons, and teacher “pull-outs” for Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)
  • Develop and pilot systemic Tier III intervention in reading for fourth and fifth grades (Achieve 3000 or other programs)
  • Pilot model lunch time (dining environment and healthy food) experience at Rowayton Elementary School; expand breakfast in the classroom program at six schools
  • Implement Anonymous Alerts at high schools and middle schools to help address Social and Emotional Security and Social Media dimensions of school climate; implement Raptor Visitor Management System at all schools to increase school security
  • Expand the “Excellence in Education” recognition program to include school support staff, in addition to honoring certified teachers and aligning with the State’s Teacher of the Year program
  • Develop and execute a State of the Schools program (annual report) to communicate progress towards fulfilling the strategic operating plan
  • Conduct feasibility study and develop plan for International Baccalaureate K-12 Pathway (early years and middle years programmes)
  • Develop and pilot Tier Ill Reading tutoring opportunity in fourth through sixth grades as an extension of the school day, and in partnership with the Norwalk Public Library
  • Develop and Implement ‘Rigor and Relevance Academy’ Plan to improve Tier I Instruction


Adamowski was given half credit (one point) on this priority implementation step:

  • Conduct study and analysis of staff absenteeism and develop plans, policies and procedures to improve adult attendance and reduce student learning loss.

The priority implementation steps that were not met:

  • Develop a vision and strategies to align educational technology in a manner that accelerates and sustains the strategic operating plan
  • Partner with Norwalk Housing Authority to develop the highest and best educational use for the proposed Colonial Village Education Center
  • Develop an assessment plan to measure the growth of students with IEPs and assess the effectiveness of specialized instruction and student services
  • Conduct feasibility study for Montessori Primary Program/School
  • Conduct study and develop a plan to address recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control concerning delayed high school start times; plan pilot 2018-19


Priority outcomes that were met, each worth five points:

  • Improve the District Accountability Index Score on the Connecticut Next Generation Accountability Plan, Indicators 1 (State Testing) and 2 (Growth Factor). The combined Accountability Index benchmark for 2016-17 was 73.1.
  • Close the achievement gap of Norwalk students in math at levels three and four by 2.9 percent.
  • Maintain a gap closure of the four year-high school graduation rate and graduation rate of high needs students.
  • Increase the percentage of Norwalk students in fourth through tenth grades who meet or exceed Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) achievement norms. The 2016-17 benchmark was 58.7 percent in ELA and 46.4 percent in Math.
  • Increase the average Norwalk SAT scores of high school juniors, from the 2016-17 benchmark of 499 ELA and 482 Math.
  • Increase the school readiness of Early Language and Learning Initiative (ELLI) pre-school students as measured by the Preschool Early Literacy Indicators (PELI) for vocabulary and phonological awareness.
  • Increase the percentage of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) from the 2017 baseline of 60.9 percent and increase the percentage of total passing exams from the 2017 baseline of 53.2 percent.



Priority outcomes that were not met:

  • Close the achievement gap of Norwalk students in third through eighth grades 3-8 Reading (ELA), at Levels three and four, by +2.9 percent.
  • Reduce one-third of the 2016-17 learning loss between fifth and six  grade in Reading (ELA) and Math.
  • Increase the percentage of eighth grade students meeting college and career readiness expectations as measured by NWEA- MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) and Lexile scores. The 2016-17 benchmarks were 46.4 percent and 58.8 percent respectively.

Priority outcomes explainer Aug 2, 2018

Adamowski was out of action for weeks during the school year after undergoing knee surgery.

Only Kimmel, Meyer-Mitchell, and Lyons replied to a Wednesday evening email asking for comment about the evaluation score.

“My thought is that it is typical of the ‘news’ media to focus on the small number of unmet goals instead of the large number of goals met,” Lyons wrote. “Other than that I have no comment.”

Meyer-Mitchell noted challenges Adamowski faced during the past year and expressed optimism that some of the unmet goals will soon be met.

“The person carrying out the Montessori study had a significant health event, which delayed that piece.  That goal will be met this year,” Meyer-Mitchell said in her e-mail.

“{Norwalk Public Schools Chief Academic Officer Michael} Dr. Conner unexpectedly left last fall and left Dr. Adamowski managing more day-to-day operations, leaving him less available time to work on issues like late start.  The Late Start committee will convene in September, and this goal will be executed the following year. I am disappointed that the SPED growth assessment did not happen yet, but also understand that {Chief of Specialized Learning and Student Services Yvette} Goorevich had a huge lift when she arrived this year.  Her list of goals accomplished this year is long, including several new programs that were vital to shifting more services in house.  I’m confident that this goal will be met this year.  Bear in mind that Dr. Adamowski had a significant surgery this year as well.”


Piberman August 2, 2018 at 11:07 am

Under Mike Lyons, a high profile corporate attorney, the BOE is the one part of our City Government that commands broad respect if not admiration. A fine demonstration how one highly talented and dedicated individual with a professional background can make a truly enduring contribution to our City. Kudos

Imagine if our Common Council and Mayor made annual performance evaluations of our high paid City Hall Administrators. And made them public. But that’s as likely as using Prof. Search hiring Top Talent.
Between 2002 and 2015 our City’s Budget increased about 65% or 4% annually. And not much changed in Nowalk. So what did our high paid City Administrators do other than getting ever higher annual salaries for doing the same job. Year after year after years. It’s a good question. The sad facts are our Common Council provides no serious financial oversight for our City. And we have the results – punitive taxes, exodus of long time homeowners, influx of renters and the most visible indicator of a failing City – falling property values.

Surely the difference between how our BOE and City Hall is run ought raise the question “why can’t we do better”?

Julie Corbett August 2, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Since I wasn’t able to attend the executive session to discuss the evaluation due to prior commitments, I cannot comment on that, but I will note that having this level of accountability with clear (and numerous) outcomes identified at the beginning of the year, including a mixture of implementation action steps as well as performance measures, is rare within the public education field. While I of course am disappointed that all of the outcomes and especially those related to student achievement were not met (or surpassed), a tremendous amount of work was accomplished last year. Systems and structures continue to be put into place, and the results will be long lasting if monitored closely and midcourse corrections are made. I advocate for this type of strategic planning and accountability with states and districts across the country.

MarjorieM August 2, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Am I confused? Isn’t Adamowski evaluated by the 2017-2018 test scores? I thought they went down, or as he put it , it was a regression to the mean.”

EnoPride August 3, 2018 at 2:09 am

Agree with Julie Corbett that “having this level of accountability with clear (and numerous) outcomes identified at the beginning of the year, including a mixture of implementation action steps as well as performance measures, is rare within the public education field.” Pretty impressive is the list which Dr. Adamowski has ticked down with the BOE. High level of results oriented ACCOUNTABILITY displayed here. Hopefully these implemented practices will remain in place after Dr. Adamowski’s term is up. I have a feeling we will sorely miss this man, and I only hope that they can hire someone so strong and results driven to follow him and continue on this trajectory. Kudos to Dr.Adamowski and the BOE for all of their hard work and dedication. Agree with Piberman that annual performance evaluations of the comprehensive template used here to assess Dr. Adamowski would benefit City Hall Administrators’ performance. The Wall Street Debacle, the Tyvek Temple, the lack of zoning enforcement, and on, and on, would not have been gotten away with if this type of rigorous evaluation was applied annually to Mayor Rilling and other highly paid Administrators.

Kevin Kane August 3, 2018 at 9:30 am

@Eno and @PBerman: regarding “Agree with Piberman that annual performance evaluations of the comprehensive template used here to assess Dr. Adamowski would benefit City Hall Administrators’ performance.”

Can someone elaborate or provide documentation if/what the evaluation and Annual Review process is for all employees who work for the town of Norwalk? Does one exist? If so, where can I/we find a blank template of the format and criteria? Maybe an FOI Nancy to get a hold of one, even better: the towns report or summary of ratings?

Piberman August 3, 2018 at 11:14 am

Kevin Kane:
I’ve been looking for evaluations of City Hall Administrators for nearly 4 decades. Maybe I need more time. But if you want to have a good sense of the “management capabilities” of how City Hall is run try asking for the detailed job descriptions of our senior City managers. And they ask why they are rarely recruited away by other Cities because of their “performance”. Norwalk elects Mayors and Council members without business experience. So why expect professional management at City Hall. Just not in the cards. We don;t pay our Mayor’s $150k becasue of their “skill set”. Only to allow all the other senior Administgrators to have similar salaries. Keeps everyone happy. Save taxpayers.

There’s a good reason why no Norwalk Mayor has been suggested as a CT Governor.

Townie August 4, 2018 at 7:48 am

@Mitch – I’m certain Bob Duff and his gang believe so. No doubt they also think that he’s done an absolute great job in his 2 terms as governor.

EnoPride August 5, 2018 at 1:41 pm

The City Hall Administrators’ annual evaluation format could be called the “J.W.I”, short for the “Just Wing It”. The more comprehensive version could be called the “Fly By The Seat Of Your Pants Unaccountability Report”.

The public should absolutely be privy to a comprehensive evaluation process for these City Hall Admin folks. Their performances should not be shrouded in mystery. After all, they are public servants. Their evaluations should be as transparent as Dr. Adamowski’s evaluation is. City Hall Administrators should have nothing to hide and should not fear public scrutiny if they are doing their jobs to their best abilities and they should be held to the same high, rigorous standards as the NPS Education sector is.

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