Ideas & Perspectives

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Learn practical strategies to handle emerging trends and leadership challenges in private schools.

No matter if you’re a School Head, Admission Director, Development Director, Board member, or any other private school administrator—Ideas & Perspectives, ISM’s premier private school publication, has strategic solutions for the pervasive problems you face.

  • Tuition not keeping pace with your expenses? In I&P, explore how to use strategic financial planning to create your budget and appropriately adjust your tuition.
  • Enrollment dropping off? Discover how to implement the right admission and enrollment management strategies that engage your community—and fill your classrooms.
  • Trouble retaining teachers? Learn how you can best support your teachers using ISM’s Comprehensive Faculty Development framework. Your faculty members will become more enthusiastic about their roles—which ultimately improves student outcomes.
  • Fundraising campaigns not as successful as you’d hoped? Implement ISM’s practical advice and guidance to build a thriving annual fund, construct an effective capital campaign, and secure major donors—no matter your community size or location.
  • Not sure how to provide professional development—for you and your staff? Learn ways to develop and fund a successful professional development strategy. You can improve teacher-centered satisfaction and growth, which in turn strengthens student-centered learning.
  • Problematic schedule? You can master the challenges of scheduling with the help of ISM’s practical advice, based on our experience with hundreds of schools and our time-tested theories.
  • And so much more.

I&P has shared targeted research, up-to-date insight, and sound theory with school leaders since 1975. More than 8,500 private school decision-makers find the answers to their schools’ administrative and governance matters in our advisory letter. We give you the strategic answers you need.

As an ISM Silver or Gold member, you not only receive issues online and in print 16 times a year, but you have access to more than 600 articles in our web archive. Need help? It’s at your fingertips! Learn more and sign up for ISM's membership here. 

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See the articles from our latest issue of Ideas & Perspectives.

The 'Best Practices' Trap

Volume 43 No. 3March 5, 2018

The phrase “best practices” has been in widespread use for some time. In private-independent schools, the phrase at times means that Trustees or senior administrators intend to turn to a meaningful and pertinent data array—such as those compiled and maintained by the best accreditation associations. School leaders often use that array as a framework, to develop benchmarks against which to measure their school as it moves to first strengthen, mission-delivery excellence and, then, its position in the marketplace.

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Sexual Orientation and Harassment: Policies to Establish a Safe Environment

Volume 43 No. 3March 5, 2018

Every private-independent school must recognize that some students—and faculty, staff, parents, and other constituents—may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Many students question their sexual orientation as they struggle to find their identity. This brings pressures to schools to examine their policies and practices. Be prepared to respond to harassment incidents within your community—regardless of whether these incidents involve children or adults.

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Outsourcing Payroll: Issues to Consider

Volume 43 No. 3March 5, 2018

A primary operational issue that private school Business Offices face is whether to outsource payroll processing rather than handling this task in-house. As a practical matter, either approach can work effectively—depending on the skills, experience, and financial and staffing resources within the Business Office. ISM recommends outsourcing only for tax information advantages. Consider these issues when making the payroll outsourcing decision for your school.

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The Problem(s) With Teacher Evaluation

Volume 43 No. 1January 17, 2018

Every school must be able to answer this question: How do we assure that we have a great faculty to deliver the mission with excellence, and ultimately increase student performance, satisfaction, and enthusiasm? While the answer, “with an effective teacher evaluation process,” is a common response, a significant problem arises—teacher evaluation processes are completely ineffective. Large-scale research has found schools do not accurately discriminate between effective and ineffective teachers,1 nor do they drive professional development or improve student outcomes.2 In our travels, ISM Consultants have found few schools that serve as exemplars in this area. Your school likely struggles to establish an effective, consistent, and culture-enriching evaluation process.

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Preserving the Trust

Volume 43 No. 1January 16, 2018

As President of the Board, you have accepted leadership of the Trustees charged with preserving the school’s essential purposes and outcomes for future generations of students and families. What exactly comprises those “essential purposes and outcomes?” How, exactly, should those relate to the founding group’s seminal formulations? How do changing societal conditions and circumstances play into and perhaps transform those seminal formulations?

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Quasi-Endowment

Volume 42 No. 16December 29, 2017

A confusing element of a school’s accounting is the bald statement, “We have a million (or some other number) dollars in endowment.” What does that mean? In most endowments that ISM examines, that number includes different elements, each of which has distinct characteristics. In a previous article, we discussed true endowment. Here we think about quasi-endowment. As the Business Manager or Chair of the Finance Committee, how do you think about this money? How does the Finance Committee think about it? How do you educate the Board about it in its strategic planning process?

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ISM Stability Marker No. 1 Revisited: Cash Reserves, Debt, and Endowment

Volume 42 No. 16December 29, 2017

Cash reserves, coupled with low debt/no debt and endowment, have always ranked either first or second among the ISM Stability Markers. These indicators of institutional sustainability, in widespread use now for more than two decades, serve as fundamental points of departure in all private school leadership-level strategic conversations and plans. ISM suggests that you, as Board President, Finance Chair, School Head, or Business Manager, as a matter of basic organizational discipline, monitor the status of the three components in ISM Stability Marker No. 1.

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