Board Development and Governance Process - Preview

Board Development and Governance Process

This module reviews and summarizes the emerging research about the leadership role of boards of education and the research-based essential board leadership practices that affect student achievement.

This module aligns with:

  • Ohio's Leadership Development Framework, Area 6: Board Development and Governance Process
  • Ohio Improvement Process: Stage 0, Stage 1, Stage 3

Receiving Credit for this Module

The Ohio Leadership Advisory Council offers educators credit and contact hours for OLAC work. Teachers, principals, and superintendents who are working toward license renewal can receive university credit for completing OLAC modules from a number of Ohio universities. Pre-approval is required. For estimated contact hours for credit or to learn more about receiving credit for OLAC work, visit the Credit Corner.

Video Transcript

Hello, I'm Dr. Douglas Reeves. Welcome to the module on Board Relations and Governance, which reflects the sixth core leadership area as defined by the Ohio Leadership Advisory Council.

We know school boards can create conditions that support effective instruction and high levels of student achievement.  As Rod Paige proclaimed during an address to the National School Boards Association "the effectiveness of school board governance is the single most important determinant of school district success or failure"

This module outlines the 12 essential board leadership practices, as defined by emerging research on the topic. These include: creating a vision, using data, setting goals, monitoring progress and taking corrective action, creating awareness and urgency, engaging the community, connecting with district leadership, creating climate, providing staff development, developing policy with a focus on student learning, demonstrating commitment, and practicing unified governance.

Connecting with district leadership, for example, is the key to success for any school district as they seek to improve instruction and raise student achievement. The relationship between the superintendent and the board of education is a critical connection. According to Mountford (2008), "This relationship has been notoriously characterized as tense and conflict laden, and largely because of this, board-superintendent teams are often characterized as dysfunctional" Without a trusting, respectful, and balanced relationship between the board and the superintendent, school improvement efforts, no matter how well conceived are doomed for failure.

In addition, recent research suggests that effective school boards create a sense of urgency regarding the gap between the data and the vision by actively advocating for change. These desired results correlate with how the district confronts the barriers to student achievement and improved instruction. Boards can inspire, motivate, and engage all stakeholders by creating and communicating a compelling long range plan. Equally important are leadership efforts that spur on the community to face their problems and confront the issues that negatively impact student achievement. This advocacy involves board communication with internal clients such as teachers and students, and external clients like community members and business partners.

Finally, practicing unified governance is another key practice toward which school boards should strive. Arriving at a relationship between the board, the superintendent and district leadership that is characterized as collaboration on behalf of children requires significant introspection and work on the part of the board. As Danzberger (1994) so aptly pointed out: A governing board will not govern well if its members cannot, through healthy debate, develop consensus about the role of the board; the purposes of the institution governed; the constituencies to which the board is accountable; how the board will relate to its constituencies; the goals and strategies needed to achieve expected results; and how the board defines its role in relation to the superintendent. Without such consensus, school boards will focus on the short term micromanagement of the school system, and misplace energy to address specific complaints from special interest groups, factions, and individual constituents.

To be effective in increasing student achievement, boards and superintendents must not only acknowledge but embrace their interdependence. Ohio's Leadership Development Framework and related resources will help you do just that. I hope you enjoy this module and thank you for your dedication to systemic improvement that will yield high achievement.

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This module features videos, pre- and post-assesments, and questions for discussion.

Number of content pages: 15

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