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A DIY Tools and Research Case Study

Resource Check: A Kick Start to Strategic Planning

"Since adopting this tool, we have effectively connected budgetary decisions to strategic teaching and learning goals and used the tool to develop the district’s strategic plan.”
Shawn Wightman,
Superintendent of Marysville Public Schools

Superintendent Shawn Wightman of Marysville, MI has his team use Resource Check to support strategic planning.

“Resource Check has allowed us to focus on what matters most—improving student outcomes...”

This story references our Resource Check tool, which was online from 2013-2018. It has evolved, based on ERS research findings, and it is now named
The Strategic System Snapshot | Mini.


Like many new superintendents, Shawn Wightman started his position by taking 90 days to get the lay of the land in his Marysville, Michigan district and listen to stakeholders. Although there was good work happening throughout the district, he realized quickly that leaders in the district weren’t aligned with their priorities and were moving in different directions. He knew that the first crucial step for success was to work with the leadership team to create a clear and coherent vision.


Wightman’s colleague recommended ERS’ Resource Check tool as an efficient way to collect everyone’s priorities and initiatives in a single place. After leading each user through a series of questions about resource use, Resource Check allows the group to compare responses, assess strengths and opportunities, and prioritize next steps. Using a free ERS account, a district can have any number of leaders answer the questions and then generate a composite of all the answers, revealing areas of consensus and disagreement. This process, grounded in ERS’ broad experience in improving district resource use, provides the ideal foundation for a coherent vision to guide productive decision-making.

Wightman set up an ERS account for his group of leaders, and had each use the tool to evaluate current district practices compared to strategic practices for each of seven areas of ERS’ Strategic System for Strong Schools. The result was a new, highly-informed and well-coordinated approach to strategic planning that used the Strategic System as the foundation. Now, taking Resource Check is an annual practice as the district continues to move forward with strategic resource use and planning. See how Marysville’s 2017-2018 strategic plan reflects ERS’ Strategic System. 


“Resource Check has allowed us to focus on what matters most: improving student outcomes,” Dr. Wightman said in an article written for Administrator magazine. “Since adopting this tool, we have effectively connected budgetary decisions to strategic teaching and learning goals and used the tool to develop the district’s strategic plan.”

 The Marysville team discovered that their lowest-scoring strategy area was in teaching. In response, they worked to provide core teachers with at least 90 minutes per week of collaborative planning time and to offer more professional development and growth opportunities driven by individual and team performance needs.

In a webinar hosted by ERS, Dr. Wightman explained, “this web-based instrument aided my district’s leadership team in identifying certain transformational strategies (e.g., standards, teaching, school design, partners, etc.) that lead to better resource use.”

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