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The Key Work of School Boards

Every high-achieving school board is focused on functioning in ways that improve student achievement. Research shows that the more effective the board, the better a school district’s students perform. In every decision and every action, the school board governance role centers on improving student learning outcomes.

The Key Work of School Boards is a data-driven framework that aims to help boards achieve excellence in school governance through a roadmap designed to assist and support their work. It is backed by research that identifies the characteristics of effective boards that can lead to improvement and sustainable change in school districts. Revised in 2015, the framework addresses five areas that show how all boards can improve student achievement through excellence in governance: Vision, Accountability, Policy, Community Leadership, and Relationships.

Effective school boards establish a clear vision with high expectations for quality teaching and learning that supports strong student outcomes. They establish clear and specific goals to move districts forward.

High academic standards, transparency, and accountability undergird a world-class education. True accountability depends on open decision making, community engagement and support, and receptivity to new ideas and constructive criticism.

Policy is how a board sustainably exercises power to serve students. Through policy, school boards establish a set of cohesive guidelines able to transform vision into reality.

Community Leadership
Through public advocacy and community engagement, school boards share their concerns and actions with the public. Community leadership that builds public support is vital to implement the board’s vision.

Board/Superintendent Relationships
Both the school board and the superintendent have essential leadership roles that are interconnected but different. Effective school boards lead as a united team with the superintendent, each in their respective roles with strong collaboration and mutual trust.

Key Work of School Boards Book

Overview of the Guidebook

Each chapter includes:

  • Self-assessments
  • Summary of roles and responsibilities
  • Relevant questions to ask and/or plannng team considerations
  • Next steps

Purchase the guidebook and get guidance on five essential, interrelated action areas needed to improve student achievement. Available in soft-cover at a discounted rate through the WASB or in an online version through the National School Boards Association. (The new 2015 Key Work of School Boards guidebooks or on order from the NSBA. More information will be provided as soon as they are available.)


Collaborative Partnerships Continuous Improvement Vision Standards Assesment Accountability Alignment Climate

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