A national study that surveyed more than 1,000 school board members and superintendents found that a greater number of school boards are focusing on issues related to student learning and accountability instead of traditional operational issues. “School Boards Circa 2010: Governance in the Accountability Era” also reveals that respondents are putting more emphasis on student achievement than in the past, and have become proactive in their role as the link between the school district administration and the community.
Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, there has been little research compiled on school board practices. This new study provides national data on who serves on school boards, what board members think about a number of school reform initiatives, how they do their work, how school board elections are carried out, and the nature of the relationship between the school board and the superintendent.
In the United States, there are approximately 14,000 school boards that administer $600 billion in budget spending each year, plan and evaluate education policies that affect nearly 52 million children, and oversee a work force of 6 million employees. The majority of board members surveyed consider budget and funding issues their top priority, followed by boosting achievement and closing achievement gaps between different groups, improving the quality of teaching and leadership, increasing parental involvement, and improving school safety. Nine-hundred responding board members also said they wanted more training on issues like funding, budgets, and legal issues.
The study was conducted by the National School Boards Association, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and the Iowa School Boards Foundation.