June 29, 2016

BoardOnTrack Uses Tech to Help Build Better Charter Schools

The state of the U.S. public school system has some serious room for improvement. Twenty-five percent of high school students fail to graduate in four years and, based on the results of college readiness exams, less than a quarter of those who do graduate are ready attend a higher ed institution.

The reasons for these startling stats run the gamut, but there’s one clear factor that rises to the top: education inequality. Simply put, low-income, minority students are less likely to achieve the same educational milestones as their white, wealthy peers.

“Our nation’s public school system is very broken,” said Marci Cornell-Feist, founder and CEO of BoardOnTrack. “It’s not delivering results kids and families want, and it’s not educating in the way we need it to be in order to be [globally] competitive.

“It’s very daunting to think about how we would go about rebuilding our public school system,” she added. “We need ways to innovate.”


Enter charter schools. These schools level the playing field for students by offering an alternative to public school, without the steep costs typically associated with private school - giving low income students access to better education. They may offer a specialized curriculum and students may be subject to an application process. (For example, the performing arts-focused charter high school I attended required students to demonstrate an interest in the arts - similar in a way to an audition. Once the demonstration was completed, new students were accepted via a lottery process.)

Charter schools operate much like a business: they’re self-governed by a board and must successfully prove their academic results every three to five years to continue operating. Trouble is, the board is often a group of volunteers who don’t necessarily have the tools to operate efficiently.

“[Board members] don’t have a lot of the tools and training they need. They might go to a course, or conference, or a board retreat - but how does that impact outcomes?” said Cornell-Feist. “But straight training and knowledge isn’t enough.”


Cornell-Feist’s SaaS startup BoardOnTrack provides a step-by-step program to help schools build better boards. The platform covers everything from taking the minutes at a meeting, to coaching and training for the board, to an assessment that offers a tangible way to benchmark success.

“Most boards think they’re good, but have no benchmarks to compare against,” explained Cornell-Feist. “BoardOnTrack lets them take a set of benchmark assessments. It’s quick and online, and gives them a snapshot of strengths and areas to improve.

“We work with [charter schools] to get goals into a dashboard to use and provides tools for the board to evaluate CEO at end of the year,” she added.

The BoardOnTrack assessment and tools also provide charter schools with a comparison to other boards across the country, and help facilitate a stronger relationship between the board and the school’s CEO.

“A big part of any organization is the partnership between the board and CEO - how aligned they are, how they work together,” said Cornell-Feist. “Our tools help strengthen that partnership, and the assessments help show how aligned they are.”


Kaite Rosa is Director of Content & Marketing at VentureFizz. Follow her on Twitter: @KaiteRosa

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