Education & Government
Diana Baker Freeman Image
Diana Baker Freeman
Sr. Manager, Modern Governance Advocacy & Iniatives

What are the benefits of school board member development programs?

October 2, 2023
0 min read
Board member listening to the various development programs

School board members serve as representatives of their community and work to promote student success and achievement. When performing such important work, evaluative processes and opportunities for board member development are vital. These practices promote reflection of the current functions of the board and identify areas for growth to improve board and district performance.

School boards have the ability to cultivate a culture within the district that values development, personal and professional growth, and continuing education. To be resilient and effective leaders school boards must participate in practices that improve the skills and knowledge of board members, while enhancing board and district procedures.

Assessing performance and board development

Effective school board governance requires boards to assess their performance and to truly take action in making progress where there is room for improvement.

The increasing use of board management tools, programs for board development, and board performance evaluation software can lead to more efficient and effectual assessment of the board and support progress. In order for school board members to improve in their skills, knowledge, and performance, it is imperative that they take fundamental steps toward progress.

Boards must recognize the importance of self-evaluation, to identify where board members, policies, procedures, and other areas can be enhanced. Then, leveraging this knowledge, boards can take advantage of board member development opportunities in order to tackle these issues head-on, working to better the performance of the board and the district.

School boards that make the effort to support honest and constructive dialogue about the board's responsibilities as a governance leadership team have a greater opportunity of successfully working toward achieving the vision and goals of the district. Effective and efficient governance is a great team effort that requires thorough and continuous assessment and reflection.

The performance evaluation process can lead to district success only if the school board works to support a culture that prioritizes this type of evaluation at all levels.

The benefits of school board member development

Board development programs provide school board members with focused and structured opportunities to gain knowledge and skills to more effectively govern their school districts. These programs can provide continuing education on a variety of topics and skills, like

  • responsible governance models
  • collaborative leadership
  • superintendent and board member relations
  • interacting with the community
  • conducting effective board meetings
  • developing and implementing policies and procedures, and more.

When board members take advantage of these opportunities, operations in the school district and board practices (goal-setting, aligning resources, communication, etc.) can increase in efficiency and effectiveness, leading to a more successful and accomplished district.

How to get started with school board member development

Development programs are available through a variety of resources. Some state associations may offer webinars or events where board members can participate in workshops to enhance in these areas. Some boards may use retreats, special meetings, or work sessions to participate in activities for learning and development.

These opportunities must be met with a willingness on the part of board members to participate and identify ways to grow as individuals, as a board, and as a district. While there may be costs associated to participate in some of these events, it is important that school boards recognize the investment being made and the dividends that can be gained.

When district leaders invest in themselves through developing knowledge and skills, there are benefits toward accomplishing district goals and supporting student success. Research shows that school boards who participate in self-assessment and development opportunities are more effective, leading to higher-achieving school districts. In lower-performing districts, board members often claim they do not learn together.

Successful boards, those who actively participate in opportunities for development, establish a standard and commitment to the importance of professional development and accomplishing goals for the district.

Successful boards, those who actively participate in opportunities for development, establish a standard and commitment to the importance of professional development and accomplishing goals for the district.

Technology that supports board member development

Studies have shown that effective boards who take advantage of development opportunities are positively correlated with lower dropout rates, a higher percentage of students matriculating to college, and higher test performance than districts with less effectively governed boards. The right technology, like Diligent Community, supports board development through the ability to securely maintain and access pertinent board information from any location or device.

School board members can be empowered in their roles through seamless, streamlined access to important materials and documents. School boards and administrators can maintain materials related to self-assessment. Information related to the performance of schools, the district, and the board can be securely maintained and accessed for continuous reference as the board works toward greater effectiveness.

Diligent Community can also link these documents to meeting agendas and minutes. The board can even adjust privacy settings to allow the public to view pertinent information. For board members to make progress together and as a district there must be a clear and focused strategy for improvement. This begins with self-assessment and continues with an actionable plan for the continuing education and development of skills for the board.

School board development programs provide board members with focused and structured opportunities to gain knowledge and skills to more effectively govern their districts.

Leveraging Diligent Community, school boards and district leaders can be supported in their work toward professional development and continued learning. Technology can be a valuable resource that can encourage a more effective and efficient board performance, leading to district success and achievement.


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