The Reign of Shane is Plainly to Blame*

Here’s how Gilbert Public Schools grew a bunch of Mini-Me principals during the Reign of Assistant Superintendent Shane McCord, according to data provided by GPS. The architect of this scheme has not been identified; just remember that Dave Allison was the GPS Superintendent.

If you thought GPS was professionally managed during the era of rapid growth from 1999 through 2013, you might be wrong. Worse than “a wing and a prayer,” the GPS style of Gut Check Management sullies the reputation of good people who were unfortunately tainted by their association with it. The Good Old Boys probably are just mad that we found them out.

Shane McCord was the youngest of successful principal candidates: he was 30 when he interviewed in 2001/2002.  Now Shane McCord is Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services—boss of all the principals.  He was appointed to that position in 2008, at the age of 37.

Shane wasn’t a teacher for long before he was made principal, and he wasn’t principal for long before he was named Assistant Superintendent.  What, then, were his qualifications?  Gut check?

Post 2008, the district saw a dramatic shift in who becomes principal.  It shifted to strongly preferring young men.  Do you think that was Shane’s influence? The numbers below tell quite a story.

Year Range % successful male candidates % successful candidates under 40 Average age of successful candidates
(Before Shane’s Reign)
34% 36% 45.15
(The Reign of Shane)
90% 70% 38


Successful Applicants, 2008/09 through 2012/13:

School Successful candidate Age Gender
Pioneer Elementary MD 34 male
Ashland Ranch Elementary BR 38 male
Houston Elementary JL 35 male
Gilbert Elementary RM 33 male
Superstition Springs Elementary TM 38 male
ValVista    Lakes Elementary PM 45 male
Towne Meadows Elementary CP 33 male
Harris Elementary SV 43 male
Islands Elementary CB 39 male
Highland Junior High School MT 40 female


Most of the successful candidates were male—90% were male and 10% were female. Successful applicants were young: 70% were under 40 at the time of interview. The average age at time of interview of the successful applicants was 37.8.  The only interview team that did not show a scoring bias against women nevertheless showed a selection bias against them: the Towne Meadows/Harris/Islands team did not choose one female principal despite the fact that seven women scored better than two of their candidates, and a woman was the highest-scoring candidate.

Interview Round Average score of male candidates Average score of female candidates Percent by which males scored higher
Pioneer-Ashland Ranch 218.80 184.88 18%
Houston 258.13 241.50 7%
Gilbert El 269.25 194.00 39%
SupSpr/ValVistaLakes 270.67 235.25 15%
TM/Harris/Islands 265.83 286.50 -7%
Highland JHS 240.50 212.50 13%
All (from data) 255.69 230.13 11%


On average, interviewers scored men scored 11% higher than women.  The Gilbert Elementary interview team was most biased, with men scoring an average of 39% higher than women.  The Towne Meadows/Harris/Islands team was the least biased against women in the scoring process, but they hired no female candidates.  They took the scenic route, but they got to the same place.

Interview Round Average score:
Under 40
Average score:
Over 40
Percent by which candidates under 40 scored higher
Pioneer-Ashland Ranch 221 174.5 27%
Houston 289 244.6667 18%
Gilbert El 262 249.3333 5%
SupSpr/ValVistaLakes 289 247.3333 17%
TM/Harris/Islands 276.3333 280.2 -1%
Highland JHS 212.5 240.5 -12%
All (from data) 249.1429 241.0833 3%


The Towne Meadows/Harris/Islands team may not have shown bias in rating candidates under 40 better, but it did show bias in picking them—two of its three successful candidates were under 40.  EIGHT CANDIDATES scored BETTER than those two under 40s chosen.  So there is a definite selection bias for young candidates.  You can see that many interview rounds showed a strong bias in rating candidates under 40 more favorably: the Pioneer/Ashland Ranch team rated them 27% higher on average; Houston and the Superstition Springs/ValVista Lakes teams rated them 18% and 17% higher on average.

It is interesting that, when ALL the data is compared, candidates under 40 enjoy a 3% edge in interview scores, but when it came to actually being hired, the edge was much more significant: 70% of successful candidates were under 40.

It is noteworthy that, on average, the male candidates were younger than the female candidates.  Stated another way, on average, female candidates were 13% older than the male candidates.  In some interview cycles, the women were as much as 23% older than the men, on average.  Did this extra life experience translate to being chosen as principal?  No, only one of the successful applicants was female.

Interview Round Average age of male candidates Average age of female candidates Percent by which   females were older than males
Pioneer-Ashland Ranch 36.4 42 15%
Houston 40.5 49.66667 23%
Gilbert El 40 48 20%
SupSpr/ValVistaLakes 41.83333 51.5 23%
TM/Harris/Islands 40.75 43.25 6%
Highland JHS 40.5 37.5 -7%
All (from data) 39.90476 44.94118 13%


All the interview teams were biased, but some were more biased than others.  On average, the most biased interview team was Gilbert Elementary, with all biases averaging 23%.  This team strongly favored male candidates; they scored on average 39% higher than female candidates. The award for most bias against older applicants goes to the Pioneer/Ashland Ranch team, which on average rated candidates under 40  27% higher than candidates over 40.

More on the idiosyncrasies of each team’s scoring process in the next section:

Interview Team Percent by which female candidates were older than male   candidates Percent by which males scored higher than females Percent by which candidates under 40 scored higher than   candidates over 40
Pioneer-Ashland Ranch 15% 18% 27%
Houston 23% 7% 18%
Gilbert El 20% 39% 5%
SupSpr/ValVistaLakes 23% 15% 17%
TM/Harris/Islands 6% -7% -1%
Highland JHS -7% 13% -12%
All (from data) 13% 11% 3%


It’s obvious that the influence of the GPS “gut check” affects the outcome of the interview process.  After all, only 30% of successful applicants were the highest scorer in their interview rounds.  40% of the successful candidates came from the bottom half of their interview round.

Date School Candidate Score Age Gender Rank
2011 Houston JL 289 35 m 1st
2009 Pioneer/Ashland Ranch BR 243 38 m 1st
2011 SupSpr/ValVistaLakes TM 318 38 m 1st
2012-3 Elem SV 297 43 m 2 of 14
2012-3 Highland JHS MT 229 40 f 2 of 4
2009 Pioneer/Ashland Ranch MD 227 34 m 3 of 13
2012-3 Elem CP 275 33 m 9 of 14
2012-3 Elem CB 274 39 m 10 of 14
2010 Gilbert El RM 262 33 m 4 of 7
2011 SupSpr/ValVistaLakes PM 247 45 m 7 of 10


We’re not finished with the famous GPS Management by Gut Check. With GPS business as usual, it’s a feature, not a bug. Don’t forget that the Gut Check is used in contracting and procurement, too.  Til next time, chirp, chirp!


* Big Fat Asterisk: Ten points if you got the reference to My Fair Lady! Ah the costumes! The songs! And Audrey Hepburn – so wonderful.

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