Roles and responsibilities of local school board members in relation to student achievement
This research investigated school board members' perceptions about their roles and responsibilities for improving student learning, and examined contextual factors and characteristics that influence those beliefs. The study involved both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis and the results surfaced several areas that shed light on potential needs for the leadership development of board-superintendent teams;The research focused on two questions: (a) Which governance roles and responsibilities do board members believe are most important to positively impact student learning? and (b) Do some contextual factors and characteristics have more influence on the board members' beliefs about their roles and responsibilities for improving student learning than others?;Data were collected from an online statewide survey completed by 718 local and regional board members and their top administrators. Additional data sources included: (a) interviews with local school board members and superintendents, (b) school finance data, (c) board member training and tenure data provided by the state school board association, and (e) statewide student achievement data;The analysis of the data also revealed a particular region in the state wherein board members (a) expressed lower expectations for their roles; (b) placed less importance on specific responsibilities tied closely to improving student achievement; (c) appeared to have a very limited understanding of what is required for systemic change of student learning; (d) participated in less training; and (e) the achievement of students was lower than other parts of the state. In addition, participants revealed: (a) a shared uncertainty and lack of confidence about the role of the board for improving achievement; (b) a concern about separating their role from the role of district staff, (c) a lack of concern about the school community connection; and (d) a perceived need for educational expertise to make a meaningful contribution in their role as a board member;The research findings suggest implications for both practice and future research. Attention to these implications and recommendations will contribute to strengthening critical linkages between school governance and the improvement of student achievement in schools.