CAIS Top 12

#1: Vision, Mission, Values & Strategy


Being Innovative or Being Perceived as Innovative?

In this blog post, George Couros, author of The Innovator's Mindset writes, "there is a difference between being innovative and being perceived as innovative, with many organizations ensuring that they are the latter while obstructing the former." Couros believes that if your school can only share a few examples of innovation, it is more likley happening in pockets. Sharing those stories can be a good thing; however, "if we are more focused on building the perception of being innovative than actually creating that culture, we can disengage many of our staff. Educators hear the rhetoric that is shared but see the practices within the school not matching what is said." To be innovative, the following things are crucial:

  • Empower educators in their practice.
  • Build a need to collaborate and push each other (competitive-collaboration) so that we not only support one another, but we bring out the best in each other.
  • Remove barriers for people to make things happen.
  • Tap into the strengths of people and ensure they feel valued.


#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments


7 LGBTQ execs on how companies can celebrate pride without pandering

This Fast Company article cautions that "Slapping a rainbow flag on your brand once a year can come off as condescending." The LGBTQ executives featured in the article share advice for leading organizations to be open-minded, inclusive and forward-thinking as well as suggestions for creating beneficial and impactful programs, events and resources. The article is written for companies but it is worth a read.

The Perils Of Pushing Kids Too Hard, And How Parents Can Learn To Back Off

According to this nprEd article, "there is a growing body of evidence pointing to elevated risks of anxiety, depression, and drug and alcohol use among kids raised in privileged communities." In response, a group of parents is trying to shift the culture to balance achievement with well being. The article provides some tips to dial back the pressure.


#3: Academic Program


Avoiding the pitfalls of ineffective edtech implementations

There is a lot of room for error when it comes to education technology implementation. In this Education Executive article Nicholas Svensson, executive vice president of product development at SMART Technologies, shares key implementation steps, considerations and best practices to ensure successful implementations.

Where Boys Outperform Girls in Math: Rich, White and Suburban Districts

This New York Times article looks at a new study from Stanford researchers that found that in school districts that are mostly rich, white and suburban, boys are much more likely to outperform girls in math. The research, based on 260 million standardized test scores for third through eighth graders in nearly every district of the United States, suggests that local norms influence how children perform in school from early ages and that boys are much more influenced than girls. When boys think of academic achievement as desirable and tied to their future success, they do better.

The Controversy Over Just How Much History AP World History Should Cover

The College Board, the nonprofit testing company that runs (and earns close to half its annual revenue from) the AP program, recently announced that it will no longer test students on the thousands of years that predated European colonialism. Critics emphasize that the decision removes huge amounts of history and worry that the change threatens to further entrench a Eurocentric worldview in Americans' minds.


#4: School Leadership


Empower Learners: 10 Lessons on Innovation Leadership

Tom Vander Ark, writing for Getting Smart, elaborates on these 10 leadership lessons, which are relevant for any organization:

  1. Get clear about outcomes that matter-and track progress.
  2. Leadership by walking around.
  3. Structures for strategic conversations.
  4. Personalized learning for all.
  5. Fast lane, slow lane change leadership.
  6. Build competency-based talent development pathways.
  7. Invest in leaders.
  8. Support strategy with flexible inspiring space.
  9. Culture.
  10. Empower learners.

#5: Human Resources


Why Managers Shouldn't Have the Final Say in Performance Reviews

The authors of this Harvard Business Review article studied the use of calibration committees at a multinational organization over a three-year period. Generally composed of higher-level supervisors, these committees adjust the ratings supervisors give employees in an effort to overcome supervisor biases and inconsistencies in rating standards. In the organization they studied, they found the calibration process contributed to improved consistency and supervisors also modified their rating behaviour in response to the process.

Also worth a read: Three Places to Evaluate Your School's HR Practices


#6: School & Community


How to create great landing pages that get results

Rather than taking visitors to your homepage after they click on a call-to-action take them to a landing page with specific information about what they are interested in, that way they will be more likely to take action. This blog post elaborates on these five tips to create landing pages that get results:

  1. Spend more time on design
  2. Cut down copy, showcase imagery and video
  3. Shorten the permalink (permanent page hyperlink)
  4. Include a Call-to-Action
  5. Make sure you are tracking analytics

Also worth a read: 3 Summer Donor Database Cleaning Tips and Traditional Fundraising That Moves Your Donors Online


#7: Enrolment Management


Celebrating the Legacy of Your School's Graduating Class

"Graduation is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of each student and the entire class," writes Rick Newberry in this Enrollment Catalyst blog post. Newberry details three ways that you can celebrate the legacy of your school's graduating class: the graduation ceremony, graduate stories and class stats and provides several examples as well as a reminder that "It is important to remember that prospective parents are interested in seeing the product of your school through stories of your graduates. If they can see their child in these stories, then they are likely to move closer to choosing your school."

The Three Pillars of a Strong Enrollment Program

The author of this blog post recommends that schools break down their enrolment program into three parts: marketing, recruitment and retention and provides suggestions to maximize each of them. In the retention section, he recommends regularly surveying parents, but cautions, "A word to the wise on surveys: do not perform a survey if you are not prepared to share the results. And, you need to think through an action plan to address those results. Parents want to know that they are being heard, but if you disregard their feedback, they will be less likely to tell you what they want in the future."


#8: Governance


How to Prep a Board Member to Be a Media Ambassador in 10 Minutes

This blog post details a 10-minute process to turn a Board Member into a media ambassador, which is: hit the highlights (3 minutes); make it personal (4 minutes); cover topics to avoid (2 minutes); and, end with a "freeze" sheet (1 minute). The post ends with a quote from Peter Drur, Vice President for Mission Advancement at Make-A-Wish (Alaska & Washington) and Adjunct Professor in Seattle University's Master of Nonprofit Leadership Program: "Less is More. Think of your role as being a door-opener, not a deal-closer. You probably don't need more materials, more facts and figures, and more talking points. Instead, I bet you need less! Think of (and share) why you are involved; why you volunteer your time and donate money; why this is important to you. Your 'why' is more important than the organization's 'what.'"


#9: Finance


The Art Of Storytelling: A New But Crucial CFO Skill

Over the past five years, the CFO role has transformed into a strategic role. For this Forbes article, Jeff Thomson, president and CEO of IMA (Institute of Management Accountants), spoke with Sandy Cockrell, Global CFO Program Leader at Deloitte about the evolution of the CFO. Said Cockrell: "Today's CFOs are expected to play four diverse and challenging roles - the steward, operator, strategist and catalyst. At Deloitte, we consider this our Four Faces Framework. The steward and operator "faces" are traditional in that they help get the books right and run an efficient finance operation. However, the strategist and catalyst challenge CFOs to take a seat at the strategy planning table and help influence their companies, while also executing change in the finance function."


#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety


Perspective: After Spade & Bourdain, America Grapples With Surge in Suicides. But Students With Depression Won't Seek Help; It's Up to Us to Reach Out

This article, which appears in The 74, is written by André-Tascha Lammé. He addresses the recent high-profile suicides and challenges school districts to print the number for crisis phone and text lines on student ID cards and to hang a poster with these numbers in every middle and high school classroom. However, he cautions that is not enough, since, "one of the most difficult things for those who suffer depression to do is to reach out to others," making it crucial for parents and educators to watch for signs of depression and to reach out when kids are struggling.

Also worth a read: Why suicide is more than a mental health issue


#11: Commitment to School Improvement


Let them talk: The power of student reviews

If you haven't already asked students to post reviews of their experience at your school, this ICEF article suggests that you do so: "The rise of online review culture has prompted a trend toward so-called "naked" or "transparent" marketing, whereby savvy brands accept, embrace, and respond respectfully to what their customers say about them. Study after study shows that encouraging reviews, and not being afraid of the odd bad one, should now be an essential part of business strategy." The article stresses that some of the most successful schools today encourage their students to post reviews on third-party sites. Moreover, International students are highly influenced by online peer reviews of schools and destinations, especially when the destination is far away and they can't visit before enrolling.


#12: Boarding Program


British boarding school is making students turn in their phones at night

First-year students at Eton College, one of the most exclusive boarding schools in the UK, have been ordered to turn in their phones at night because of concerns about the pressures of social media. The policy is designed to decrease the students' screen time and improve their sleep.

At One College, 23% of New Students Will Be International

This fall, Franklin & Marshall College is on track to have 23 percent of its new students hail from outside the United States; up from 15 percent of those who enrolled in fall 2017. Unlike many smaller colleges, the school does not use agents but instead had a faculty member spend several weeks in China in both the spring and fall. Because of her "hybrid position," the professor can provide important insights to prospective students in China and their parents.







Recent CAIS Top 12


Please Note: The links we publish are primarily from outside sources – links to older items may have expired. We apologize for any inconvenience.