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Rain and new board members—springtime staples.

What are you doing to welcome new board members?

It’s April, and that means a couple of things. Namely, the weather in Wisconsin will bring all kinds of surprises—sometimes allowing for flip flops on Monday but requiring boots and winter coats by Wednesday. And spring election season has been in full bloom for many states, which means school districts will be welcoming a freshman class of board members.

In some cases, these new board members have spent months campaigning on the new direction in which they’d like to take their school district. They’re bringing passion, excitement, and fresh ideas, but do they fully understand their new role?

To quantify this (among other things), School Perceptions, in partnership with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, developed the Annual Board Development Tool (ABDT). It can effectively create a baseline and/or measure your board’s achievements from year to year.

The objectives of the ABDT are as follows:

  • To expose board members to a comprehensive array of school board responsibilities based on the research and framework proved in The Key Work of School Boards.

  • To identify areas where the board is aligned and where further dialogue and discussion is needed.

  • To identify areas where board members expressed an interest in receiving additional information and/or training.

The ABDT includes five action areas per The Key Work of School Boards framework:

  1. Vision

  2. Accountability

  3. Policy

  4. Community Leadership

  5. Relationships.

Additionally, an equity section was added at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year in an effort to identify whether goals and expectations are the same for all students. Each action area is comprised of several statements throughout the survey.

Once board members have had a chance to participate, School Perceptions can create a comprehensive report that:

  • Compares your results to the Wisconsin state average. This allows for easy, side-by-side analysis.

  • Provides a longitudinal analysis (if applicable). The ABDT has been used and trusted by school boards for years, which allows for year-to-year analysis if your board has participated in the past.

  • Identifies the top 15 items in terms of standard deviation. (A high standard deviation indicates low consensus between respondents, and additional conversation and discussion should be considered.)

  • Includes all comments provided by respondents.

Spring is a great time to identify opportunities and create goals for the upcoming school year, particularly if you’ve got some “newbies” on board. Your ABDT is open and ready for your board members to use if they have not yet participated.

If you’re interested in participating but are scratching your head thinking, “Where in the world did we put the information we originally received, and how do we get started?” – great question! Just contact School Perceptions (262-644-4300 or, and we’ll send you the link to your ABDT survey. You can then email it to your board members and easily keep track of incoming results.

Cheers to smooth and effective transitions for all new board members!


The School Perceptions Blog and Resource Center features the voices of our team members. This post was written by Chelsea Davis, Data Analyst.


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