Governance corner
Practical tips from our MIG faculty
What are the benefits of a board self-evaluation?
Vector illustration of woman standing next to big checklist
Deep learning is imperative to high-performing boards. However, neither veteran school board trustees nor newly elected members define “deep learning” as being able to recite the board policies their districts have in place. The Board Bylaws (BB), sometimes called the 9000s, are one category of district-guiding documents that governance team members should seek to understand.

BB 9400 highlights the importance of boards intentionally monitoring themselves as a much-needed accountability measurement. The bylaw language affirms the need for a formal process of board self-evaluation. Brazilian author Paul Coelho elegantly sums up the wisdom of stepping back to monitor and evaluate effectiveness when he said, “Always ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.” The board has an unspoken obligation associated with BB 9400 to evaluate its operations and accountability in serving the needs of students in their communities.

To understand the value of a board self-evaluation, trustees can ask the following questions:

  • In what ways can self-evaluation help trustees gain greater confidence in the effectiveness of the board’s governance practices?
  • How can support for the district’s priorities and goals, and for the superintendent in leading the school system toward those goals, be strengthened based on value perception data gathered via a formal board self-evaluation?
  • What aspects of community engagement and leadership can be afforded greater emphasis and resources as a path to greater community confidence in the district?
  • How can understanding the value of the data produced by a formal self-evaluation strengthen the board’s ability to be agile and responsive to critical data points that emerge from the process?
  • What part can learnings gleaned from the results of a board self-evaluation play in furthering the district’s ability to demonstrate accountability to the community at large?

CSBA’s Board Self-Evaluation Tool has helped many governance teams pause to identify ways boards can be more effective moving forward in service to their students, staff and education partners in communities. CSBA’s Governance Consulting Services Department provides two options for conducting the self-evaluation. After completing the electronic survey, participating districts either review the results independently, using written guidance provided by CSBA, or with in-person facilitation by a CSBA consultant. These facilitated conversations strengthen the board’s ability to recognize and leverage their internal strengths and address areas for improvement in order to lead more effectively. Self-reflection and intentionality in utilizing the information derived from a board self-evaluation is an important step towards accountability.

Have questions or interested in beginning the board self-evaluation process? Email