Board Self-Evaluation: A Key to Successful Board-Superintendent Relationships
Jenni Lefing, Membership Services Manager
There are two crucial evaluations that are key to a successful board-superintendent relationship. Just like you evaluate your superintendent each year, it is equally important to evaluate the board as a whole. A board self-evaluation is an opportunity for the district governance team to review and consider their effectiveness as a leadership group.
Most school districts have a policy that details the Board Self Evaluation process.
As outlined in school district policy BB 9400 BOARD SELF-EVALUATION:
Effective, efficient and ethical School Board operations are an integral part of creating a successful educational program. In order to measure progress towards meeting board standards and its stated goals and objectives, the School Board will annually schedule a time and place at which all its members may participate in a formal self evaluation.
The School Board shall be evaluated as a whole and not as individuals. The evaluation will focus on the internal operations and performance of the School Board. The School Board members shall develop goals and objectives against which the School Board will be evaluated. A self-evaluation instrument will be based on these goals and objectives and not on goals set for the district.
Each School Board member will complete the self-evaluation instrument independently. The ensuing evaluation will be based on the resulting composite picture of School Board strengths and weaknesses. The School Board will discuss the tabulated results as a group.
The evaluation process should include the establishment of strategies for improving School Board performance. Revised priorities and new goals will be set for the year’s evaluation.
As noted in the policy above, the board self-evaluation evaluates the whole board, not each individual board member. It’s an opportunity to pause and reflect on how the board (as a whole) is doing in each area of a boards’ purview.
The purpose is not to “grade” your school board, but rather to measure, monitor, and strengthen its performance in governing for improved student learning.
In order for this happen, we recommend the Board Self-Evaluation:
- be a facilitated process through using an independent facilitator that allows for full participation from every member,
- be a formal process that happens at least once a year, and is scheduled on your annual calendar,
- include the Superintendent and the entire school board,
- assess progress of a boards’ annual goals/priorities and districts’ strategic plan,
- be a tool aligned with standards, such as AASB’s Board Standards or the NSBA Key Work of School Boards,
- be a tool which board and superintendent are able to hold themselves publicly accountable for the work they have to do.
Gathering as a board to discuss the assessment is the most important step of this process. It is the perfect opportunity for the board, as a governance team, to take a step back, look at itself and identify strengths of the board, key issues, and identify what the board should focus on in the coming year.
Ask your board chair or Superintendent when the board will be conducting a self-evaluation this year. For more information on self-assessments or if interested in hiring AASB to lead this services, go to: https://aasb.org/school-board-self-assessment/.