School boards are critical components of successful districts. By bringing together different voices and opinions from those who play unique but equally vital roles within the school community, school leaders obtain the insights and perspectives needed to operate efficiently, innovate regularly, and ultimately enable the highest possible academic outcomes. With school boards playing vital roles, board leaders must ensure they are running at the highest efficiency levels. The best way to determine the efficacy, productivity, and optimization of your school board is by conducting regular school board self-evaluations.
The Purpose of School Board Self-Evaluations
The purpose of school board self-evaluations is to ensure the board is fulfilling its responsibilities to its schools, students, and community. The only way to determine if a school board is meeting its committed obligations is to take the time to reflect on progress and accomplishments. Not only does the self-evaluation process ensure success, outside stakeholders, including parents and teachers, will feel a greater sense of trust and appreciation for a school board that documents and shares its self-assessment process and key learnings and insights from its regular evaluations.
Why Your School Board Should Conduct Regular Self-Evaluations
Leadership coaches and organizational experts agree that self-evaluations of school boards are considered best practices. Even though there is no legal obligation for the board of education to evaluate itself, there is tremendous value of a school board to conduct an annual self-evaluation. Such practices convey to school leaders and the community that board members take their responsibilities seriously. Every school board member is accountable to those that he or she serves and must contribute to the achievement of the board’s objectives. School board leaders must, therefore, ensure that all contributors are singularly meeting their commitments and that collectively the board is collaborating and working in unison to achieve optimal results.
In addition to ensuring operational efficiency, board self-evaluations should include critical governance and compliance reviews. More specifically, the review process should validate that individual board directors have not developed any conflicts of interest that would impede their ability to make decisions in the best, objective interest of the school.
Finally, school board self-evaluations should be purpose-driven and should include foundational decision-making relative to the board’s continual self-improvement plans, its goals, and objectives for the following review period, both at the individual and collective levels.
The benefits of recurring school board self-assessments include:
- Promoting accountability.
- Reflection on individual and unified performance.
- The identification of board strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement.
- Dedicated time for open communications about board efficiency.
- Analysis of performance against established goals and focused future goal-setting.
- A safe time and space to resolve obstacles impeding progress.
School Board Self-Evaluation Modalities and Methods
One member of the school board should be primarily responsible for facilitating the evaluation process. Understanding that this could add a significant time commitment to a single member’s responsibility—potentially the already thoroughly committed board chair—choose an evaluation tool that will be easy and straightforward to administer, monitor, and from which results can be quickly reported.
The most successful evaluation tools are ones that promote accountability and transparency. Rubrics such as the NYSSBA Board Evaluation and The Framework for Reflection and Growth are helpful in conducting a board self-evaluation. And thanks to progress in modern-day technology, school boards can take advantage of online solutions (like SuperEval) that allow for individual and group assessments that are documented and visible to relevant team members. Online evaluation tools, also allow for individuals to reflect on their performance not just at the end of the term, but periodically throughout the year, documenting key milestones, progress points, observations, and accomplishments. By recording such notes throughout the year, online evaluation tools enable more comprehensive assessments and reflections during the formal review process.
Things to Consider Before Diving In
For some school districts, the focus of the board assessment is intended to be more collective and less individual. In these cases, where individuals are providing feedback on their peers and the full group’s effectiveness, some participants may be uncomfortable providing honest feedback if they feel they will be judged for their opinions. If anonymity is essential for encouraging candid feedback, online assessments also allow for anonymous feedback and aggregated response analysis.
Not only does the modality matter when creating a self-evaluation process, but so does the format. Most rubrics offer a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions to the self-evaluation. Questions that ask participants to rate their response on a scale will help you assess the board’s progress year-over-year, while qualitative questions will provide in-depth insights that are equally valuable.
Go Forth and Reflect
As you build modalities and processes to help your school board leverage self-evaluations to improve its performance, remember that your objectives should always focus on individual and collective improvements. The boards that work hard to work together are best able to achieve their district’s mission and vision of helping their students achieve high academic outcomes. By committing to reflection, assessment, and goal-setting, you will put your school board in the best position to improve so that your school district can improve too.
Find School Board Self-Evaluations in SuperEval
For school boards, SuperEval is so much more than an evaluation tool. SuperEval takes the evaluation process a step further in that the system can be used to help boards determine key areas of focus and improvement. The result is a board working toward the same goals.
For more information, call 1-844-312-3825 or request information online.