School Boards and Student Achievement

The Lighthouse Study, recently released by the Iowa Association of School Boards, indicates that school boards in high achieving districts are significantly different from school boards in low achieving districts.

Study Results:

Similarities in High Achieving and Low Achieving Districts

  • Care about children
  • Peaceable relationships with other board members and superintendent
  • Positive board opinion of superintendent
  • Tension about roles in a site-based system regarding balancing goal of building-level autonomy and need for equity and continuity across the system
  • Students in categorical programs: special education, Title I, bilingual programs
  • Local backgrounds of board members and staff

Differences in High Achieving and Low Achieving Districts

  • Elevating vs. accepting belief system        

o   Elevating: Students were viewed as emerging and flexible and the school’s job was seen as releasing each student’s potential

o   Accepting: Viewed students as limited by income or home situation, and accepted schools as they were

  • Understanding and focus on school renewal
  • Action in buildings and classrooms

Conditions for School Renewal

    • Shared leadership: A focus on learning through a shared, clear vision, high expectations and dynamic leadership among all levels
    • Continuous improvement and shared decision making: A continuous focus on improving education with high levels of involvement and shared decision making
    • Ability to create and sustain initiatives: An understanding of how to organize the people and the school environment to start and to sustain an improvement effort
    • Supportive workplace for staff: A supportive workplace that enables all staff to succeed in their roles
  • Staff development: Regular schoolwide staff development that is focused on studying teaching and learning
  • Support for school sites through data and information: Using data and information on student needs to make decisions and modify actions at the district and building level
  • Community involvement: A close connection between the schools, parents and community

 

Click here to view a table comparing school districts “Moving” towards improvements in student achievement and those who were “Stuck” with little evidence of improvement present.  
Click here to learn more about Mississippi school boards.

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