Strengthening Tools

Evaluating the board/team - Performance level checklists
Here’s a concept tool describing three sets of performance characteristics for a governing team. If you’re looking for the “highly effective” performance label from Colorado’s Educator Effectiveness effort, you’ll find it somewhere between “Effective” and “Highly effective.”

Evaluating the superintendent - 360 degrees
360-degree evaluations can be great exercises in healthy assessments . . . or not. The following is an approach effectively used by one of our Colorado school boards. Keys to the effort: Direct and constant contact between the board and the superintendent, board norm of strategic focus, facilitated appraisal conversations, low reliance on anonymity, and a culture of accountable leadership. Designed for evaluating superintendents, this model can also be used in appraising board/team performance.

Evaluating the superintendent - Cañon City model
Here are the processes and tools used by the Cañon City School District’s governance team for evaluating and developing the superintendent.

Evaluating the superintendent - Mapleton model
Here’s a glimpse of Mapleton’s “paper tool" for evaluating and developing the superintendent.  The key: Constant aligned time to a strategic focus.

Evaluating the superintendent - Eight elements
In a successful governing environment, school board members and their “one employee” are all focused, accountable, and continuously learning/improving together within an aligned and prioritized strategic framework. In this context, intentional boards support, develop and healthily challenge the superintendent in two to four work/executive sessions a year. The following worksheet is designed to be used in those sessions, not as a stand-alone assessment tool, but to kick-start a discussion about the elements of effective leadership and how the board and its “one employee” might advance excellence together.

Evaluating the superintendent - Guidebooks
Among the best guidebooks in the network of board associations:  OregonMichigan and Washington. Insights galore.

Evaluating the superintendent - Insights & tips
Among the many constants throughout the network of good-to-great governing teams is ongoing, active appraising of the progress/performance of both the board and the “one employee.” The principles and practices for both leadership functions are interrelated, often transferable. Here’s a list of insights specifically designed for appraising the “one employee,” but useful for appraising both.

Evaluating the superintendent - Seven standards
Based on the content and style of Colorado’s “model evaluations” for teachers and principals, this tweakable tool is designed for use two to four times during a year of constant superintendent AND board development. Big encouragement: Revise to reflect your local governing team’s standards. Ratings: Highly Effective (HE), Effective (E), Partially Effective (PE), Ineffective (I), Don't Know (DK).

Evaluating the superintendent - Strengths & frames
Designed to be blended into constant disciplines of strategic focus and appraising, this Survey Monkey tool is effectively used in quarterly and annual appraisal points. Compilation and distant coaching included. Big encouragement: Tweak to reflect your local expectations.

Framing - Board essentials, insights and worksheet
A combination of insights, contacts, skill sets, standards and worksheet. Good for both individual and team strengthening.

Framing - Maximizing meetings (characteristics)

Framing - Standards for effective governing
All great group/team efforts have habits and standards. Here’s wisdom from around the country about the ongoing work
of providing effective governing. The BIG: Local efforts to discuss, develop, own, and continuously improve. This
worksheet is designed to prompt local thinking, framing and/or performance appraising.

Framing – Strategic, aligned agenda
An aligned agenda is about wildly important focus of time, energy and content. A form of strategic, maximizing work, the aligned agenda declares roles, boundaries, intentions and promises for both members and constituents. It is both paper and behavior.

Planning - Workshop template - First-step team
Designed for a session devoted to developing the first steps with a strategic framework.

Planning - Workshop template - Framework team
Created for mature teams to advance their unique strategic framework.

Planning - Workshop template - New Team
Designed for a session devoted to welcoming new members to the work of highly effective governance.

Planning - Challenges and issues
Use this worksheet to examine the crucial challenges and issues facing your strategic efforts through different lenses: educational, economical, social, relational, political, etc. Think rooted and emerging; possibilities and probabilities; clear and foggy. Circle the crucials. Blend your thinking into strategic conversations. Start with solo jotting, listing and sketching. Move to team and/or large group conversations.

Planning - Effectiveness elements
When you find effective groups, teams, cultures, movements…you almost always find shared vision, powerful purpose, wildly important goals, aligned norms/resources, and embedded core values. Use this worksheet to develop or advance local work. Start with solo jotting/thinking then move to a mix of group conversations.

Planning - First things first
Ah, time, focus, priority management! Here’s a “first things first” worksheet popularized by Stephen Covey. Use for appraising the past or projecting an improved future for both team and member choices. Among the core questions: How do we use our time? How might we maximize our time together? When I’m not in a meeting with the governing team, what’s consuming my board member time and energy? Start with solo jotting, listing and sketching. Move to a team conversation. Use online assets such as Survey Monkey to help sort and prioritize. The goal: Spend most of your time and energy with “not-urgent, important” priorities.

Planning - S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting
Use this worksheet to develop effective focus, measures and celebrations. Know that S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting has definitions (Specific/significant/stretching; Measurable/motivational; Achievable/attainable/acceptable; Realistic/reasonable/relevant; Timed/timely/tangible). Start with solo jotting and sketching. Move to team and/or large group conversations aided by tag sheets, post-it notes and/or Survey Monkey surveys. Note: Most goal-setting work is developed by the administrative team.

Planning - S.W.O.T.
Strengths. Weaknesses. Opportunities. Threats. A simple way to appraise, identify, discover, think. A foundation for developing many strategic efforts. While some versions focus “strengths and weaknesses” internally and “opportunities and threats” externally, this tool is designed for blended use. Start with solo jotting, listing and sketching. Move to a mix of small and large group conversations. Use online assets such as SurveyMonkey to help sort and prioritize.

Planning - Six questions
Simplified from several traditional strategic thinking models, here are six crucial questions. All six are adaptable to individual, team, and system challenges. Choose your focus, then start with solo jotting, listing and sketching. Use tag sheets, post-it notes and/or Survey Monkey surveys to advance team and/or large group conversations.

Planning - Team milestones and seasons
A calendar of key annual events.

Planning - Why-How-What
Effective strategic impact gets a big assist from “thinking & doing” based on powerful why-how-what. Great investment: Spend 15 minutes with Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” presentation at ted.com. Focus first on exploring, then sustaining, THE WHY! Why do we exist? Why do we do what we do? Famous Sinek quote: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!” Start first with WHY, then move to the action HOWs and result WHATs.

Teaming - Covey's trust-building elements
A worksheet about the never-ending challenge of building understanding and trust, crucial to maximized effort. Author: Stephen M. R. Covey. Ask: How might I/we improve with this element of trust-building? Start with solo jotting, listing and sketching. Move to a mix of small and large group conversations. Use online assets such as Survey Monkey to help sort and prioritize.

Teaming - Derailers, diffusers, distractors, destroyers
Even good-to-great governing teams can fade from excellence in the “intersection of democracy and humanity.” Juggling the relational, neighborly, passionate, and political aspects of school board governance can be tough. This tool is designed to strengthen the effectiveness of individual board members and the team as a whole by suggesting some common ways well-intentioned folks can derail, diffuse, distract, and/or destroy both strategic and moral commitments to excellence. Highlight the “D’s” listed below that are in the greatest need of discussion, mentoring, and/or strengthening by your board, and/or add your own. Online versions available.

Tool at Regionals 2019: BoardWORK Essentials
Good for team development, member strengthening and candidate visioning, BoardWORK Essentials features skills sets, asset links, a suggested strategic framework, two exercises, and next-step practices/ideas.

Tool Collection: WE/ME Board-Superintendent Strengthening
A set of one-page tools to facilitate a stronger board-superintendent working relationship.


CASB’s strengthening tools are designed to be used as resources within facilitated workshops and continuous improvement conversations. To understand and maximize each tool, please contact Randy Black or Brittany Crossman 800-530-8430, 303-832-1000.