Ten Essential Criteria for Board Policy Development

As stated in my previous post, policy-making is a board’s primary governance tool. These organisational statements translate a board’s vision, priorities and values into action. Additionally, they are a board’s best evidence that it is focused on its primary mandate of improving student achievement.

So, what do good policies look like? The following is a quick summary of essential criteria for good policy development gleaned from several excellent resources, including Ontario’s Exercising Authentic Governance: The School Board’s Role as Policy Maker.

Good Policy:

  1. Focuses on and demonstrates a linkage to improving student achievement and well-being.
  2. Aligns with the board’s vision, beliefs, and strategic plan.
  3. Is ethical and within the board’s authority.
  4. Relies on data and stakeholder input.
  5. Uses concise and easily understood language
  6. Clearly describes to whom and what it applies.
  7. Is actionable within the realities of current resources.
  8. Maintains differentiation between the board’s policy-making role and staff implementation (administrative procedures).
  9. Specifies staff responsibilities and limits in implementing the policy.
  10. Includes a process for evaluating its efficacy.

The process of developing and evaluating board policy requires time and diligence. It is, however, where a board should be focusing most of its attention. It is one of the key characteristics that distinguishes strong boards and successful school districts.

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