School Board Leadership: A Study of Training for School Board Members Across the United States
Local school board members play a significant role as leaders of public education in the United States. As leaders, local school board members are charged with the responsibility to create an environment within their school districts that enable students to meet rigorous content knowledge and performance standards. The public's expectations of the local school boards have changed considerably in recent years, primarily due to the standards and accountability reform movement. In most states, local school board members are now being held accountable for student achievement based on annual standardized assessments. The increased expectations and scrutiny of local school boards have been accompanied with greater emphasis on preparation and training programs for local school board members.
The purpose of this study was to investigate and report states' mandates and requirements for local school board training and to document the characteristics of training activities provided for local school board members across the United States. The design of this quantitative study included two surveys disseminated to two target populations. The first target population was comprised of the executive directors of each state's school boards association. The second target population included local school members who held leadership positions in their school boards association for their respective states.
The study was designed to identify which states in the United States: (1) mandate training for local school board members with an enforcement provision; (2) mandate training for local school board members with no enforcement provision; and (3) do not mandate training for local school board members. The study explored whether or not there were differences in the perceptions held by local school board members regarding training pursuant the following variables: (1) length of service on the local school board; (2) education level; (3) gender (4) district size (5) whether the board member was elected or appointed; and (6) whether training in their respective states was mandated, mandated with an enforcement provision, or not mandated. Information was also requested relative to the characteristics of training activities provided for the local school board members.
The findings from this study showed that the legal requirements for training of local school board members across the United States have remained relatively unchanged from those reported in previous research studies. There were minimal differences found in local school board members' perceptions about training in states that mandate training (with and without an enforcement provision) and states that do not mandate training. An analysis of data collected through a survey administered to a delimited population of local school board members indicated a preference for training through use of for small-group concurrent sessions. The respondents perceived that small group concurrent sessions was the most effective presentation format for training. Further analysis of data also found that the respondents perceived that regional meetings and school board retreats were effective formats for training.
Findings from the study appear to suggest that local school board members participated in training whether it was mandated in their states or not. The findings also seem to imply that more emphasis and attention could be placed on the quality of the training provided for local school board members.