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