Since 2003, the state has required members of all 55 county school boards to sit down and go through a self-assessment process. It only sounds pointless.
School board members are to look at 136 items in 15 categories and rate their own performance on a one-to-five scale from "not very effective" to "highly effective." The West Virginia School Board Association administers the assessment.
As Kanawha County Board of Education member Robin Rector commented: "It's not really likely anyone's going to list themselves as not effective."
But this annual exercise, bureaucratic though it may be, forces school board members to look at their entire operation.
That is always a good idea.
Executive Director Howard O'Cull of the school board association noticed, for example, that in some areas, Kanawha County board members assessed their collective performance differently. Obviously, such differences are worth talking about.
When board members do not focus closely enough on what they are supposed to be accomplishing, state officials intervene. Six counties are now under state control until they correct their shortcomings.
If a self-assessment questionnaire helps local school
officials keep complex systems on track, it's a good procedure.