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  • What experiences prepare you for one of the most challenging functions of a superintendent?What are highly effective governance teams?What does it take to cultivate and sustain effective governance.Who is WSSDA? How can we help?
  • Key work history—a decade
  • The survey paints a broad picture(but we can’t fit it all in today)Demographics (age, gender, income, etc.)Elections, campaigns, motivation to runUse of technologyTime spent on board work…and more
  • Research says…High expectations for all students; no excusesPassion and commitment—an urgency to improveActive choice— ‘we decided to act’
  • Ethical and moral pursuit of high and equitable achievementUrgency and commitment‘catalytic event’ Proactive commitmentShared equity beliefs
  • “Defining a clear and narrow focus for achievement—picking a few goals and sticking with them”
  • Ethical and moral pursuit of high and equitable achievmentUrgency and commitment‘catalytic event’ Proactive commitmentShared equity beliefs
  • Ethical and moral pursuit of high and equitable achievmentUrgency and commitment‘catalytic event’ Proactive commitmentShared equity beliefs


  • 1. Exceptional governance teams
    School governance in an era of accountability
    Phil Gore, M.Ed.
    Director, Leadership Development Services
  • 2.
  • 3. What specific preparation or experience have you had that equips you to work for five democratically selected citizens, who may have no specific knowledge of education?
  • 4. Options for working with a board
    Manage them well
    Keep them uninformed
    Keep them overwhelmed
    Avoid them
    Coddle them
    Confuse them
    Lead them
    Serve them
    Partner with them
  • 5. The superintendent as a servant-leader
    There is significant potential to develop school boards and build their capacity for exceptional governance that improves student learning.
    Knowledge about what matters most in school improvement
    Active engagement in key board roles that make a difference in the effectiveness of schools
    Policy-making that influences the system around what matters
    Leadership development and teambuilding
  • 6. What are characteristics of an exceptional school board?
  • 7. Washington School Board Standards
    Provide responsible school board governance.
    Set and communicate high expectations for student learning with clear goals and plans for meeting those expectations.
    Create conditions district-wide for student and staff success.
    Hold school district accountable for meeting student learning expectations.
    Engage local community and represent the values and expectations they hold for their schools.
  • 8. Communicate high expectations for student learning with clear goals & plans
    Responsible School Governance
    Engage community & represent the values and expectations they hold for their schools.
    Hold school district accountable for student learning expectations
    Create conditions for student and staff success
  • 9. The short story
    There is no ‘one size fits all’ for exceptional governance, and school boards need latitude to perform their roles, but …
    School boards today see improving student learning as a priority, even in difficult financial times. Many are actively setting goals for improvement, creating the conditions for quality teaching and providing meaningful and supportive accountability for results.
  • 10. What is exceptional?Characteristics of Exceptional School Boards
    Strong commitment to high expectations for all students (5 studies)
    Maintains focus on clear goals for achievement and instructional improvement (8 studies)
    Establishes accountability systems for monitoring and evaluating progress (5-7 studies)
    Provides supports for professional development (7 studies)
    Takes part in team development and training (4 studies)
  • 11. The Latest DataHighly Qualified School Boards Survey
    National survey of board members & superintendents, conducted late 2009
    1,020 respondents in 418 school districts nationwide, in districts enrolling 1,000+ students
    NSBA, IASB/ISBF, Thomas Fordham Institute; funded by grant from the Wallace Foundation
    Many questions aligned with Iowa Lighthouse research on effective school governance
    Results to be released publicly at the end of 2010
  • 12. VISION
    Exceptional school boards are committed to high expectations for each student.
  • 13. Beyond Islands of Excellence
    Some combination of leaders—school board members, superintendents and community members—acknowledged poor performance without placing blame, accepted ownership of difficult challenges, and began seeking solutions … What distinguished the districts was not the existence of a vision, but the way it was actively used. (Learning First Alliance)
    Set and communicate high expectations for student learning with clear goals and plans for meeting those expectations.
  • 15. In districts with higher levels of student achievement, the school board is aligned with and supportive of the non-negotiable goals for achievement and instruction. The board ensures that these goals remain the top priorities in the district and that no other initiatives detract attention or resources from accomplishing these goals.
    School District Leadership that Works: The Effect of Superintendent Leadership on Student Achievement, by Timothy Waters and Robert Marzano. Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, 2006.
    McREL Research
  • 16.
  • 17. Accountability
    Hold school district accountable for meeting student learning expectations
  • 18. Lighthouse Research
    Traditionally, boards have received ‘reports,’ usually annually. This work differs … by involving more frequent data study, on an ongoing basis throughout the year. The board and staff then have time to take corrective action (two to four times per year). This combination of studying student achievement data more frequently and having implementation data about improvement initiatives gave the Lighthouse boards a much clearer picture of where the district is headed … and what kinds of supports are required to accelerate improvement.
    -Iowa School Boards Foundation, Preliminary Report on Lighthouse II, 2007
  • 19. ALIGNMENTEffective boards provide supports for teacher collaboration and professional development
  • 20. Beyond Islands of Excellence
    Districts adopted new approaches to professional development. To varying degrees, they all rejected the traditional, one-time workshop approach to developing teacher skill. Instead, they implemented coherent, district-organized strategies to improve instruction, using research-based principles of professional development.(Learning First Alliance)
  • 21. CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENTExceptional boards take part in team development and training
  • 22. LaRocque & Coleman found successful boards were more likely to:
    Be considerably more knowledgeable about district programs and practices
    Have a clearer sense of what they wanted to accomplish, based on a set of firmly held values and beliefs
    Engage in activities that provided them with opportunities to articulate and discuss these values and beliefs
  • 23. Lighthouse Research
    The board members found it necessary to create time to learn together as a board team and engage in extensive dialogue with each other in order to establish consensus about what was most important to accomplish, to understand what it would take to succeed, and to determine at what cost they were willing to pursue it.
  • 24. Our mission
    The Washington State School Directors’ Association provides leadership, advocacy and services to support public school directors’ efforts to improve student learning.
  • 25. CommunicatingSCHOOL BOARDS MATTER(and so does board learning)
  • 26. The school board is in a unique position to enact policies that will catalyze the coordination of the building- and district-level resources so essential for school reform to succeed. Indeed, school boards are the linchpin of the local governance structure.… If ‘powerful’ comprehensive school reforms are to be sustained, a persuasive case can be made that they will have ‘shallow roots’ without the support and understanding of local authorities focused on student achievement.– Michael Usdan, Kappan, March 2010
  • 27. References
    Carol, L.N., Cunningham, L.L. Danzberger, J.P., Kirst, M.W., McCloud, B.A., & Usdan, M.D. (1986). School boards: Strengthening grass roots leadership. Washington, DC: Institute for Educational Leadership.
    Goodman, R.H., Fulbright, L., & Zimmerman, W.G. (1997). Getting there from here: School board-superintendent collaboration: Creating a school governance team capable of raising student achievement. Arlington, VA: Education Research Service & New England School Development Council.
    Iowa Association of School Boards. Lighthouse Studies 1996-2008.
  • 28. Land, D. (2002). Local school boards under review, their role and effectiveness in relation to students’ academic achievement. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University, Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk.
    LaRocque, L. and P. Coleman (1993). The politics of excellence: Trustee leadership and school district ethos. The Alberta Journal of Educational Research XXXIX(4), 449-475.
    Petersen, G.J. & Fusarelli, LD. (2008). Systemic leadership amidst turbulence. In T. Alsbury (Ed.), The future of school board governance: Relevancy and revelation (pp. 115-134). Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield Education.
  • 29. Snipes, J., Doolittle, F. & C. Herlihy. (2002). Foundation for success: Case studies for how urban school districts improve student achievement. Washington, DC: Council of the Great City Schools.
    Togneri, W., & Anderson, S. E. (2003). Beyond islands of excellence: What districts can do to improve instruction and achievement in all schools. Washington, DC: Learning First Alliance.
    Waters, T. & Marzano R. (2006). School district leadership that works: The effect of superintendent leadership on student achievement. Denver: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.