The Boards of Distinction recognition program awards school boards that demonstrate alignment with the Washington School Board Standards. Any board that meets certain scoring criteria is eligible to become a Board of Distinction. The top scoring boards in small, medium and large sized school districts may also be honored as a Board of the Year.
The program holds rigorous standards. Judges—including past or present state board members and superintendents—attend a pre-review norming meeting to calibrate their scores. To ensure they are rating the board’s actions and results, not the writing, they reference the standards and ask the following questions:
This board exhibits the willingness to listen to staff, review data and make decisions in order to bring about positive change. For example, their annual review of data raised a concern regarding program effectiveness for English Language learners. The board asked the elementary staff to review new ELA curriculum and make a recommendation to the board. The board approved the recommendation and authorized the purchase of the first ELA curriculum adoption in 15 years.
In the first year of implementation, there was a 30% increase in the number of students exiting bilingual services. The elementary principal provides ongoing reports to the board using student demographics data, achievement scores, discipline and other data points to identify barriers to educating all students. As a result, the board authorized hiring a school social worker who works to implement evidence-based programming to reduce barriers. The social worker collaborates with teachers, administrators, parents and students.
This board is focused on all students being college and career ready. They developed a student achievement initiative: Improve, Modernize, Prepare. To close opportunity gaps, programs were developed and offered at no cost. These included Kindergarten Jump Start for English Language Learners, Summer Ready Camp, Math Academy for middle school students and a STEM Academy at the high school level. Career and college advisors, mental health counselors and instructional coaches were also added as part of these initiatives. The results for 2017-2018 say 90% of eligible students registered for College Bound, graduation rates increased to 92.5% and there was a 15% increase in the number of graduates meeting requirements for admission to a Washington 4-year college.
This board formed an Equity Task Force and eventually adopted an Equity Policy. As a result, the board directed that the district identify and remove any and all barriers to equity in education. One barrier – access to preschool programs for low-income students – was addressed with resources allocated to create more pre-school programs. Those resources opened up 97 more ECEAP spots for low-income preschoolers representing a 62% increase! Also, Highly Capable assessment was extended to all students in grades K-8. This resulted in an increase of assessment rates across federally recognized sub-groups, such as English Language Learners, low-income students and those students eligible for Special Education Services or a 504 plan.