Traits of Good School Boards
Q. How do we evaluate how good of a
job our school board is doing?
will give you a list like this one, drawn from an article based on educator
views, "5 Characteristics of Effective School Boards":
A focus on student achievement
Good allocation of resources to
A demonstrated return on investment
of education dollars
Use of data from solid measurements,
not opinions, hunches or even educator experience
Engagement with parents, students,
employees and patrons
Parents and taxpayers would no doubt add these:
Nationally-standardized test scores that match or out-do the
If the community the school serves is upper-income with lots of
educational attainment among parents, the test scores should be among the
highest in the land. If the community is low-income, with many single-parent
families and relatively low educational attainment by parents, then a lower
test score average is acceptable and understandable. If your district's ACT and
SAT test score averages are below the average for your state, and you don't
have many low-income students in your district, you probably have an
underachieving school board that should be switched out next election.
Spending per pupil per year that is at or below the state average
Cost-effectiveness requires board leadership that doesn't cave in
to every educational fad, but requires accountability from school employees for
why they should get to spend what they want to spend.
Minimal evidence of groupthink, arrogance, nepotism, corruption,
sweetheart deals, featherbedding and self-dealing
Whenever you have fallible human beings in charge of a pile of
somebody else's money, you're going to have this kind of stuff, but there
shouldn't be much. Be realistic, and look for signs of health or sickness. Do
fewer than 50% of high school parents show up for parent-teacher conferences?
They may not feel engaged. That's a bad sign. Is there never, ever, a split
vote on that board? Maybe nobody feels "safe" about conflict, or maybe school
administrators are running that elected board, or maybe both. Follow the money.
If your district's spending is 'way above the state average, that's a red flag
of financial mismanagement and some of these other organizational problems.
Homework: Read more about how
educators define quality leadership in the article, "Five Characteristics of an
Effective School Board," on www.edutopia.org/five-characteristics-effective-school-board