Each year, the Washington State School Directors' Association honors outstanding school boards that demonstrate understanding of their leadership role and follow through on their responsibilities, while showing concern for the educational excellence and equity for all students.
The Boards of Distinction recognition program provides a multi-year approach to demonstrating alignment with the Washington School Board Standards, focusing on five benchmarks per year.
Three categories of awards allow WSSDA to honor exemplary boards, recognize the good work of many boards, and commend long-term commitment to responsible governance.
The 2015 application has been modified to help clarify the instructions and to better account for the fact that governance takes time.
New this year
- An expanded professional development section
- A more specific focus on the achievement gap to better share the board's success
- A rating process revised to give a lower percentage of the score to boardsmanship, and a higher percentage to achievement gap success than in previous years
- Removal of the consecutive years criteria to achieve the Five Year Merit Award
About the awards
Boards of the Year: This prestigious award goes only to the highest rated boards from among the applicants. One district from each of three district enrollment sizes (small, medium, large) may receive this accolade. Board of the Year recipients will be featured in WSSDA Direct.
Boards of Distinction: This award recognizes each board that shows evidence toward meeting the Washington School Board Standards. Our hope is that every school board in Washington will eventually meet the criteria for this tribute that reflects their commitment to effective governance.
Special Merit Award: Five Year Board of Distinction: This special award honors boards that have demonstrating continued focus on and breadth of alignment to the Washington School Board Standards. It is given to boards that have received a Board of Distinction award for five years. Those awards do not need to be consecutive.
Why should you apply?
The Boards of Distinction application process offers your board an opportunity for growth and helps you to:
- Discuss how your actions align with effective board governance practices.
- Document your focus on educational excellence and equity for all students.
- Identify how you create conditions for student and staff success.
- Demonstrate your commitment to continuous improvement and accountability.
About the application process
The application is based on the principles of the five Washington School Board Standards. Each standard has a set of benchmarks to help identify the knowledge and skills that high performing boards demonstrate.
Sections include boardsmanship, professional development, demonstrations of effectiveness, and closing the achievement gap. The professional development section was enhanced this year to add clarity, and a new essay and evidence section was added to aid boards in responding more thoroughly to how they address the achievement gap.
Five essays with supporting documentation – one for each standard – focus on a different benchmark each year. A sixth essay with evidence addressing the achievement gap remains constant year to year. These demonstrations of effectiveness count for up to 69% of the application’s score.
The full board should be involved in discussion and writing, and narratives should reflect the viewpoint and work of the board, rather than the administration.
For more detailed instructions, open and download the application. To help inform your narratives, we recommend you browse through the resource links in the box to the right of this page.
Award recipients will be announced during the lunchtime general session on Friday, November 20 at the WSSDA Annual Conference in Bellevue. All applicants should plan to be present.
Applications are due no later than 5:00 p.m. on September 21.
How to apply
Open and download the application, and read through each section before you begin work. We recommend you also review the resources provided in the Application and Resources box at right. Then, complete the application form and narratives as instructed, and assemble supporting evidence. Be sure to identify supporting documents by name within each essay (e.g., Appendix A).
Submit your completed application as a single Word file or PDF document to Connie Lauderdale at C.Lauderdale@wssda.org. For questions, please contact Connie at 360.252.3009.
Applications must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on September 21.