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Annual Board Development Tool

A joint initiative by the WASB and School Perceptions

Use the Annual Board Development Tool to answer three key questions:

  • Are your school board’s planning priorities aligned?
  • What data is needed to help establish our board’s annual goals?
  • Are your new school board members knowledgeable about their roles and responsibilities?

School Perceptions provides access to this tool for all Wisconsin school districts at no cost.

What is the Annual Board Development Tool, and why should I use it?

The Annual Board Development Tool, a survey taken by each member of a school board, was developed through a partnership between School Perceptions and the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

 Items in the Tool are organized into nine sections.

  1. Data-Driven Decision Making
  2. Board Operations
  3. Culture
  4. Planning
  5. Budgeting
  6. District Operations
  7. Community Engagement
  8. Policy
  9. Vision

Items in each section are measured against the following response scale:

  • Fully Achieved: This is an area of notable strength that could serve as a model for other districts.
  • Mostly Achieved: Performance is acceptable, but future improvements might be considered over the coming years.
  • Partially Achieved: Performance needs improvement this year.
  • Not Achieved or Started: This is an area where immediate improvements should be considered.
  • Not Sure: This is an area where I have neither observed nor have knowledge of our District’s practices.

Learn More About the Annual Board Development Tool

This video, facilitated by WASB consultant Patti Vickman, explains what the tool is and offers a step-by-step guide to taking it and evaluating your results. You’ll learn from Rob DeMeuse, research director at survey creator School Perceptions, and Oshkosh School Board President Barb Herzog, who will share why and how her school board uses the tool.

Who should take it?

The Annual Board Development Tool should be taken by each member of your school board or governance team. The superintendent/district administrator often participates in the process and analysis but does not typically take the survey.

How do board members take the survey?

A special survey participation link is shared with your board president and at the beginning of each school year. This link is unique to your school district. If you misplaced your link, contact Ben Niehaus (WASB’s Director of Member Services) at 608-512-1706 or

How do I see results and check if everyone participated?

Results access instructions and password were shared with your superintendent and board president via email and mail. Navigate to the Client Dashboard and enter your username and password. From here, you’ll be able to access your results and see if all board members participated. If you misplaced your username and/or password, contact Ben Niehaus (WASB’s Director of Member Services) at 608-512-1706 or

When is the best time of year to use this survey?

Fortunately, there is no “bad” time to use the Annual Board Development Tool. Many districts choose to implement the survey during a summer or winter planning retreat. If it is an election year, some districts will implement the survey as part of the onboarding process for new school board members.

How do I analyze my results and get additional support?

Once your school district completes the survey, School Perceptions will provide a report for $250. Upon request, WASB will provide complimentary analysis of the report with recommendations that will help you establish logical next steps.

If you would like a WASB governance consultant to support your board — whether through an on-site visit or a virtual consultation — please see our Governance Consulting Services.

What’s included in the report?

The report provides a comparison analysis of each item to state averages. If your school district used the survey in the past, the report will also provide longitudinal analyses to quantify growth relative to previous years. Indexes are also calculated to provide educational leaders with an overall snapshot of the results. Key questions within the tool are used to build each index score. The indexes include the following:

Governing for High Levels of Learning for All Children

Effective school boards understand the research on governance practices that make more of a difference for children. They also commit as boards to consider how the findings of this research affect their governing role.

Governing for Quality Leadership

Board and superintendent roles and responsibilities include: board operations (board meetings, policy development and board calendar); advocacy; establishing a positive governance culture; governing with ethics; and knowing how to function as a collective board/superintendent team.

Governing for a Strategic Focus on the Future

School boards cannot afford to limit their focus to the present; they must consider the future needs of the children, school district and community. Quality boards will specifically plan their futures by examining vision, mission and a moral imperative; understand key district data that impacts the future; and identify specific district goals and action plans to ensure future needs are met.

Governing for Communication and Engagement

As the key connector to the community, school boards have a need to communicate and engage stakeholders in proactive ways. Knowing and implementing effective communication and engagement roles of the board and superintendent is critical. Effective engagement strategies are paramount, as is an understanding of the need for modeling effective two-way communication.

Governing for Accountability

Governing boards are generally responsible for the outcomes of the school district, and this work calls for effective teamwork with the superintendent and overall administration. Committing to continuous improvement and understanding how to use complex student-related data is key to this work. Other areas of accountability relate to fiscal matters and ensuring the district is accountable to the public for the resources that are provided. An additional accountability area is to ensure ongoing stability and growth related to leadership succession planning.

Are there other resources to learn about the survey?

Two great resources to learn more about the Annual Board Development Tool include this WASB Connection Podcast (see Episode 30) and Wisconsin School News article.

Need help?

To receive additional help or ask other questions not covered here, contact Ben Niehaus (WASB’s Director of Member Services) at 608-512-1706 or Rob DeMeuse (School Perceptions Research Director) at 262-299-7159 or

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As the President of the Greendale School Board, I have found the Annual Board Development Tool (ABDT) to be extremely beneficial to our work towards continuous improvement. The ABDT is easy to use and has guided our board through meaningful discussions pertaining to our areas of strength as well as areas in need of additional attention. Our board utilizes this tool annually to guide the work we do for the betterment of our school district. I highly encourage all school boards to consider utilizing this tool.

Kathleen Wied-Vincent

Greendale School Board President

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