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Research and Data Resources


Key Work of School Boards

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. The Key Work of School Boards is aligned with research on effective school boards including:

  • 2009 Iowa Lighthouse Study that examined the school board’s role in improving student achievement. The study suggests that “school board actions are a key part of a ‘culture of improvement.'”
  • 2011 Center for Public Education Study: Eight Characteristics of Effective School Boards.
  • 2013 research by Dr. David Lee of the University of Southern Mississippi found that effective school boards exhibit similar behaviors.
  • Research by Michael R. Ford of UW-Oshkosh and Douglas M. Ihrke of UW-Milwaukee found that when school board members who have served for at least five years indicate greater adherence to the Key Work of School Boards, student achievement increases. Specifically, greater adherence to the Key Work concepts has a statistically significant relationship with a district’s reading proficiency levels, and overall accountability score. Articles by Ford and Ihrke: “Governance and Student Achievement,” Wisconsin School News, December 2015 “Academic Research of School Board Conflict,” June-June 2016
Wisconsin Public School Data

WISEdash is a data portal that uses “dashboards,” or visual collections of graphs and tables, to provide multi-year education data about Wisconsin schools.  Data on the portal are redacted and available by school, district, or the state.  Current and certified data can be displayed for multiple years and it can be grouped and filtered by a variety of demographics including grade level, gender, race/ethnicity, economic status, disability, English proficiency, and migrant status.  Data download files are also available.  As a public reporting tool, WISEdash is used by districts, schools, parents, researchers, media, and other community members to view data published by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Wisconsin Center for Education Research

WCER provides a dynamic environment where some of the country’s leading scholars conduct basic and applied education research.

Center for Public Education

The Center for Public Education (Center) is a national resource for accurate, timely, and credible information about public education and its importance to the well-being of our nation. The Center provides up-to-date research, data, and analysis on current education issues and explores ways to improve student achievement and engage public support for public schools.

The intended audience includes school board members and other policymakers, educators, community leaders, parents, and everyone concerned with the education of our children. 

Additional Research

Quick Guide on Making School Climate Improvements, National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments

School Board Leadership Matters, Wisconsin School News, April 2015

Governance Does MatterWisconsin School News, May 2020

NSBA National Connection Program

The National School Boards Association National Connection program provides a package of resources and tools to participating school districts. It includes access to:

  • Federal Insider: Get the real story from Washington, D.C. with NSBA’s legislative and legal experts.
  • The Center for Public Education Briefing Room: Improve your decision-making with practical insights from school improvement research.
  • Meet the Experts webinars: Innovative ideas shared by national experts who are shaping public education for tomorrow.
  • School Board Leadership Resource Center: Strengthen your board’s leadership for student achievement with best practices from across the country.
  • Public Engagement Toolkit: Create public commitment and strengthen confidence in public education.
  • Money Saving Resources Maximize resources available to help your district succeed.
  • American School Board Journal: Stay in the know with NSBA’s award-winning coverage of public education trends and issues.
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