Maximizing Your Board’s Effectiveness: WSSDA’s Toolkit for Summer Success

During summer, school is out, but board development is in! It’s similar to legislative advocacy; when the legislative session is over, everyone goes home, but that’s when most of the groundwork is laid to prepare for the next session.

This summer, spend some time working together to improve your board’s practice. Veteran board members and WSSDA tools are here to help your team take proven steps to maximize your board’s effectiveness.

A Formula for Success

The formula is simple. Your board needs to assess itself, examine data on your district’s student success, identify board practices that are research-proven to have the biggest impact on the student outcomes, and set goals.

The Toolkit

Fortunately, WSSDA provides a toolkit to help boards carry out the formula. Step one is assessing the board’s work. For free, every board in Washington state can use WSSDA’s online board self-assessment survey, which is based on the Washington School Board Standards. The anonymous online survey takes less than 20 minutes for each board member to complete. This tool will help show where your board is in alignment and where it might want to do some work. If taken annually, the survey results can show you’ve progressed or changed over time.

“The extensive reports based on our responses for the current year while also looking at the trend in prior years, help us identify where we are working as a strong team, as well as areas where we want to set goals for our own continuous improvement in service to our students,” said Yakima Superintendent Trevor Greene.

You can take the survey results and work with them internally, or you can request an experienced facilitator from WSSDA to help your team interpret the results and begin formulating a plan of action. “The skilled facilitation provided by WSSDA during a 3-hour work session allowed us to have conversations that the board-superintendent team rarely has” continued Greene. “Reflection on our own practices and their alignment with our district’s strategic plan are an important tool to support our strategic plan with a strong governance team.”

The next item in your WSSDA toolkit is a workshop or retreat facilitated by WSSDA’s leadership development staff and consultants, many of whom are former or current school board members. WSSDA’s skilled facilitators come to your district to cover the topics most important to your board-superintendent team. They custom-design the content to meet your needs and goals. Most in-district workshops are three hours and can be done in a board work session format. Retreats are bit longer ranging from half a day to a full day.

Another tool to maximize board effectiveness is OnBoard. OnBoard is a professional learning system for school directors developed by WSSDA. Onboard courses are offered virtually and in-person throughout the year and at the WSSDA Annual Conference. These courses equip directors with critical knowledge in a variety of areas like school finances or budgeting and enable directors to meet legislated learning requirements about educational equity. Five OnBoard courses will be offered in person at the November WSSDA Annual Conference.

Finally, WSSDA’s New Director Network provides monthly webinars on different topics along with relevant resources. Whether you’re a new board member or simply looking to brush up, you’re welcome to join. Each lunchtime webinar is recorded for later viewing if you miss one.

Invest in Your Own Growth

In harnessing the wealth of resources provided by WSSDA, from the comprehensive self-assessment survey to tailored workshops and a virtual and in-person learning platform like OnBoard, school boards possess the means to embark on a transformative journey of self-improvement. And summer is an opportune time to do it. Let’s seize this opportunity to invest in our collective growth, ensuring that our boards emerge stronger, more effective, and better equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Reach out to WSSDA’s Leadership Development staff to learn more.

NOTE: This article was first published in the Spring 2024 issue of WSSDA Direct. Visit to see all the latest issues of WSSDA’s newsmagazine.