Assessment Tool

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Considering change?Are you a superintendent considering a change initiative or trying to figure out what derailed your previous efforts? Superintendents will benefit from learning about the common mistakes that other leaders have made when implementing change, and understanding why employees resist change. Gaining this kind of insight is essential in beginning the conversations inherent in using the Ohio Improvement Process (OIP) and the online learning resources available through the Ohio Leadership Advisory Council (OLAC) as the district’s framework for guiding change and making sustainable improvements.

Approximately 50 years ago, John F. Kennedy said,
“Change is the law of life.”

Even though change is the law of life, changing behavior is never an easy or quick process. It is often painful, and conflicts are likely to occur. Attempting to force staff members to change a behavior, learn a new skill, or think differently will likely fail or achieve short-term results at best. Attempting to force employees to implement a best practice may not be the wisest course of action.

The topic of change is an often-talked-about subject in school districts. How many times have we heard staff members say, “the only constant around here is change?” Before one change initiative is fully implemented, another one is often introduced. Given the fact that the pace of change will continue to increase in the foreseeable future, it will be necessary for superintendents to hone their skills and become more adept at managing change initiatives. If we fail to do so, we face the risk of having mandated changes forced upon us.

Change should always be a product of proactive thought. If we find ourselves only reacting to negative influences, we are likely to become engulfed in a time-consuming recovery initiative. When contemplating a change initiative, or as you reflect on the causes that derailed your current efforts, becoming familiar with the common mistakes made during implementation of change efforts will increase the probability of success when using the OIP and the online learning resources available through OLAC as the foundation and cornerstone of your improvement strategy.

ohio-doing-what-works DSC 1013Partnering with the Board in Transforming the District. Many superintendents have found themselves in the position of getting too far in front of their Board of Education members without having laid sufficient groundwork for the kind of partnership needed to sustain the district’s focus on instruction and achievement. Generating Board support should be among the first things a superintendent plans as part of any change effort.

Consider framing interactions with Board members as conversations about change and as opportunities to partner with them in “driving” the changes that are necessary for transforming district practice. Including an educational component for the Board to help members better understand attributes of effective Boards of Education may be helpful in working toward collaborative leadership.

The OLAC on-line module, Board Development and Governance Process, includes research on the attributes of effective boards of education. Primarily developed through the Iowa Lighthouse Project, a multi-year, multi-state research initiative of the Iowa Association of School Boards, characteristics of school boards “in high-achieving districts are significantly different in their knowledge and beliefs than school boards in low-achieving districts (Iowa Association of School Boards). Among the characteristics of effective school boards is their willingness and capacity to “lead as a united team with the superintendent, each from their respective roles, with strong collaboration and mutual trust.”

View the OLAC on-line module: Board Development and Governance Process

Use the following activity to prepare your key talking points for making a case to the Board of Education for needed change.


Developing the Elevator Speech: Consider the talking points you’ll use in securing and/or maintaining Board support for your change/improvement strategies. What key pieces of work (e.g., the district’s most recent report card, the district’s focused goals, etc.) will you use in painting a picture for the Board of needed change?

Driving Change 'Bone-Deep'

Questions to Consider

Interactive Assessment Tool

Download the Superintendent's Assessment Tool from

This District Self-Assessment Guide is intended for use by district leadership teams and school-level leadership teams in gauging the district's degree of implementation and scale of actions associated with effective practices identified by Moving Your Numbers.

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Supporting Partners

  • University of Dayton, a supporting partner of the Ohio Doing What Works program
  • Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County, a supporting partner of the Ohio Doing What Works program
  • State Support Team 3, a supporting partner of the Ohio Doing What Works program
  • Ohio Department of Education, a supporting partner of the Ohio Doing What Works program
  • Buckeye Association of School Administrators, a supporting partner of the Ohio Doing What Works program
  • Ohio Leadership Advisory Council, a supporting partner of the Ohio Doing What Works program

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