Applications are open for Boards of Distinction and will be accepted through September 20. While it may not be practical for all boards to participate, it is highly encouraged. Participants in the Boards of Distinction program have cited a variety benefits that accrue just from going through the application process. As you may have read in the summer issue of WSSDA Direct, the Raymond School Board noted that the application process is good for performing a self-examination of board/district work, evaluating key district initiatives, informing newer board members, and sharing solutions with other districts.
Sharing solutions is a recurring theme within feedback WSSDA receives from members throughout the year. Annual Conference is WSSDA’s largest event focused on solution sharing, but the Board of Distinction program is another way of fulfilling members’ desire for practical knowledge.
“The program came into existence as a way to raise awareness and encourage the application of the Washington School Board Standards,” said Colleen Miller, WSSDA’s director of leadership development. “But another benefit of the program is that we end up collecting data-informed examples of successful board work. We try to make that available to everyone by posting the successful applications on our website.”
The Boards of Distinction recognition program is based on the Washington School Board Standards. WSSDA members adopted the standards because they identify best practices for teams and individuals as drawn from current research. These best practices support increased student achievement.
“We know that school boards across our state, in districts of all sizes, apply the standards in their work,” said Miller. “The Boards of Distinction program recognizes this, and strives to identify districts with governance practices that exemplify the standards.”
Over the years, the Boards of Distinction program has undergone periodic revision in an effort to balance rigor with accessibility for boards of all sizes. To that end, last year, WSSDA convened a focus group of past participants and judges. The group suggested that boards should have some choice in what they submit because each district’s plan is unique.
The focus group’s feedback was put in to practice for the subsequent round of applications and it seems to have paid dividends. Not only was there an increase in the number of small-district applications, but the applications overall did a great job of honing in on how boards had applied the Washington School Board Standards to their work.
Learn more, including how to apply for boards of distinction, at wssda.org/bod.