School board member and superintendent dispositions relating to student achievement

Maxson, Connie
Major Professor
Daniel C. Robinson
Committee Member
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

The purpose of this study was to determine whether local school board members who have been subjected to more of a specific type of training focused on student achievement create and support conditions in their systems that enable students to achieve at high levels. Of specific interest was the change in disposition of the board members and superintendents as a result of the training;Educational research has endorsed the idea that school districts cannot effectively raise student achievement without strong leadership and teamwork from the school board and the superintendent. Results from this study indicated that board members who participated in more intensive training related to topics around leadership and student achievement consistently identified this training as having an influence on the disposition of the board and the behaviors they exhibited at board meetings. This was demonstrated by the systematic approach to their work with less micromanaging, the use of data in their decisions, a district focus on reading comprehension, and by an "all really does mean all students" attitude when making decisions related to student achievement;Iowa schools continue to face the challenge of improving student achievement. Schools and school leaders are being asked by policy makers to ensure that all students reach a level of proficiency or face risks and consequences of failure. Past research has focused on the policy development of boards of education rather than on the training and support that board members received. This study concluded that, if board members are going to lead districts in student learning efforts, training for the board members does matter. Among the recommendations were regular self-assessment, and mandated development and training to improve the governance performance of local boards. This training should include a focus on developing a shared vision focused on student learning. Additionally, the training should include devising strategies to develop skills in demonstrating shared decision-making, supporting regular school-wide staff development, using data and information on student needs to make decisions, and developing a close connection among the schools, parents, and community.