Six Universal Best Practices of Highly Effective School BoardsJanuary 10th, 2021
School boards across the country are faced with extraordinary challenges. As the world continues to battle the coronavirus, even the most cohesive school boards must ensure that they are collaborating and working as effectively and efficiently as possible to make decisions that will help see their district through its current unprecedented challenges. By striving to follow these school board best practices, you can maximize the progress you make in every meeting and ensure each board member is an accountable contributor.
1. Set a Clear Vision Statement and Set Annual Goals
Without a defined purpose and measurable goals, no entity can be optimally productive. If you do not already have one, craft a defining vision statement. Your vision should be a purpose statement that guides your actions every year. It should embody your values and keep all members motivated and focused.
Then annually, create one to three measurable, purposeful, and strategic goals for your school board (follow these ideas for setting SMARTER goals). Your goals should help solve an identified challenge or issue or address an opportunity for enhanced student achievement. At least once a quarter, but ideally, at every meeting, review your collective progress in moving toward the milestones established as part of your goal-setting process. Openly discuss barriers to success, praise one another’s achievements, and celebrate mini achievements. With such focus, and with everyone contributing, your school board will be maximally efficient.
2. Commit to High Expectations for Student Achievement
No matter where your students and schools are currently on the spectrum of academic excellence, ensure that every decision you make, every program you initiate, and every focus area is based on a commitment to student academic achievement. The most effective school boards never lose sight of the fact that our education system’s primary role is student learning and development. Impactful school boards never stop challenging themselves or their leaders to continue to make incremental progress in student academics.
When setting goals for each school year, ensure that at least one, but preferably more, focuses on policies, programs, and support mechanisms that will foster student success. Add the topic of academic performance to every school board meeting agenda, and report on school progress in each meeting. These tactics will help every school board member remain focused on their commitment to educational advancement and will help you monitor whether your programs and initiatives are effectively producing positive outcomes.
3. Prioritize Professional Development Opportunity for Your Faculty
Our teachers are the keystones of our academic success programs. We need them to help lead our students to the highest levels of educational achievement. For our teachers to support our students’ education, we must enable them to continue learning, growing, and achieving themselves. School boards that want to promote the highest academic success levels must seek out opportunities for teachers to continue their professional development.
Every year, work with your school leaders to identify at least one professional development opportunity for faculty. Ask your teachers what type of training would be of interest. They may request support for learning new technology and tools like video conferencing software or social media, coaching for incorporating social emotional learning into everyday classroom work, or guidance holding challenging conversations with parents. By collaborating with faculty on the training that will best support them, you can ensure you select professional development to address their most significant areas of need.
4. Be Transparent
The most effective school boards are accountable to their schools, their students, and one another. While the school board is responsible for creating and executing policies and strategies at the district level, superintendents and other school leaders should manage-up, questioning their board members and ensuring that they are delivering on promises. School boards must maintain open lines of communication and operational transparency to foster trust and openness between school boards and district leaders.
Promptly distribute all school board meeting minutes or post them online for parents, school officials, and community members. Regularly share proactive progress updates and program results. Maintain a welcoming position with members of the media, inviting interviews, and being open to answering questions—even on the most challenging and divisive topics in your community. Even if every stakeholder is not entirely satisfied with the board’s progress, they will respect that the board is open and candid about its inner workings.
5. Do Not Lose Sight of Your Schools’ Financial Health
Brilliant ideas for effective programs and services cannot have their intended impact if you do not have the necessary funding to execute them. The most effective school boards monitor their schools’ financial health and advocate for community support in helping to fund essential programs and ensure faculty and staff are adequately compensated for the critical work they are doing for our future generations.
6. Collaborate with the Community
Our schools are critical components of our community. The most effective school boards maintain an open dialogue with community leaders, ensuring that district residents become advocates for what is best for students and families. School boards that regularly invite community members to comment on programs, share ideas for innovation, and proactively publish updates on student achievement progress are better positioned to maintain community support.
SuperEval can help school boards create a goal-aligned district.
Even though school board members change from term-to-term, the most successful boards have foundational elements that enable consistently high-performance long-term. With a clear vision, goal-oriented administration, and faculty and the community’s support, you can focus on student academic achievement. SuperEval can be used to make sure that all of your district leaders are on the same page. Find out more about SuperEval’s school board self-evaluation and superintendent online evaluations. Or call us today to set up a short demonstration.