School Board Effectiveness

Any effective group is continually asking itself the question, what can we do to be more effective?  For a governing board, such as a school board, we should continually be asking, are we focused on the most essential issues?


In my six months on the St. Vrain Valley School Board, I have developed a tremendous amount of respect for each of my fellow board members.  They are a group of passionate and dedicated people.  I am learning from each of them.


I also have come to believe that, as a board, we can be more effective and more focused.  We need to spend a greater proportion on what's essential.


How to be more focused?  This is a common challenge for governing boards.  It is so common that there are many books and articles written on the topic.  Countless consultants earn their living helping boards learn to be more effective.


I am reading two books by John Carver to learn how a governing board can be more effective.  The two books I am reading are Boards that Make a Difference and Reinventing Your Board.



3 Responses to “School Board Effectiveness”

  1. Brad Jolly Says:

    John, I appreciate your willingness to improve. I am sure you have read the CADI report by now; please, please, PLEASE! focus on its top five recommendations, quoted below:
    ░░░░░░░░▒▒▒▒▒▒▓▓▓▓ ▓▓▓▓▒▒▒▒▒▒░░░░░░░░
    Top 5 Priorities Identified During the CADI Roll Out
    1. Develop and Implement a systemic organization which clearly
    identifies the structures and processes for our work. Hold us
    accountable for RESULTS.
    2. Synthesize a viable Standards-Based curriculum. Develop
    accountability procedures for every teacher, principal,
    administrator and instructional classified staff member, which
    are frequent, documented, and assessed by STUDENT
    3. Provide Professional Development that brings clarity to staff;
    provides follow-up to monitor and support staff growth in skill
    implementation, and which is assessed for effectiveness by
    4. Assure that building administrators and instructional staff
    become highly skilled in use of data to adjust their practices.
    Evaluate success by STUDENT RESULTS.
    5. Embed collaboration across the district as our critical tool for
    doing business, and renewing our cycles of forward motion.
    ░░░░░░░░▒▒▒▒▒▒▓▓▓▓ ▓▓▓▓▒▒▒▒▒▒░░░░░░░░
    Items 1-4 summarize a lot of what I have been trying to get across to the district for the past decade: the current accountability-free approach simply does not work.

  2. Brian Herman Says:

    Along with “what can we do to improve?”, one of the most important questions a team can ask itself is “what can we *stop* doing?”
    All too often a group will constrain itself with legacy decisions and “that’s how it’s [always been] done” thinking. Sometimes a rule or a process was put in place for all the right reasons but is addressing a problem that no longer exists or for a climate that has changed. Teams get stuck in their own cultural norms, passed down from person to person over years. They miss the chance to truly grow and evolve if they are afraid to question the way things are.
    Sometimes taking a look at the things that you feel you must do and asking “why?” will result in the startling revelation that you don’t have to do it after all… and then truly breakthrough solutions can arise. I’ve found this a powerful tool in my career.

  3. Brad Jolly Says:

    I would be interested in hearing your conclusions about how the board needs to change, if at all.

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