Center for Effective School Board Governance

improving student outcomes by improving school board effectiveness
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Center for Effective School Board Governance



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The Challenge

Nationwide, outcomes for our more than 50 million public school students are not improving as broadly (deep knowledge of critical subjects) and inclusively (all students, regardless of background) as is necessary for our children to live meaningful choice-filled lives and for our country to compete globally. The roughly 14,000 public school systems must become more effective more quickly. To the extent that this occurs, it will require school boards to transition from being adult inputs-focused to becoming student outcomes-focused (Crabill, 2023).

The Opportunity

Effective education leadership can improve student outcomes (Marzano, 2006). When school boards receive coaching that helps them focus more of their work on student outcomes, their leadership effectiveness can grow in ways that create the conditions for improved student outcomes (Howard, 2019). Unfortunately, most training and coaching provided to school boards does not lead them toward a student outcomes focus (Crabill, 2022). 

School boards generally behave professionally — in a manner that allows the business of the school system to be accomplished. But professional behavior is not the same as effective behavior — behavior that creates the conditions for improvements in student outcomes. It is most common that school boards are professionally ineffective — conducting the adult inputs-focused business of the school system but not inspiring increases in what students know and are able to do, not being student outcomes-focused. Most states and state laws focus on school boards being professional, on managing the adult inputs; almost none of them focus on school boards being effective, on improving the student outcomes. But we can change that.

The Response

Improving school board effectiveness at a national scale requires solving a two-way market problem (like when uber had to create both the supply of their unique product and the demand for it). This takes: 

  1. a robust desire from school boards looking for support to move from being adult input-focused to being student outcome-focused (demand); and 

  2. a strong marketplace of resources and coaches trained in helping school boards make this transition (supply).

To generate demand, the national Center for Effective School Board Governance cultivates the knowledge, skill, and mindset needed for school boards to effectively implement a student outcomes-focused approach to school board governance. Then the Center partners with state agencies (like TX & ND), education accrediting bodies (like Cognia), school board organizations (like NDSBA & CGCS), and national partners (like ECS, CCSSO, CSSBO, & NSBA) to support and incentivize adoption of this approach to school board governance.

To generate supply, the Center provides a national school board coach certification (like national board certification for teachers, but for school board coaches), a library of high-yield research, assessment tools, implementation guides, and support services needed for them to coach effectively.