Qualifications and readiness of school board trustees and implications for training

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


Researchers have studied the need for public school board training and relationship of in-service to effective boardsmanship and school leadership. Research about training for trustees indicates that training can enhance board effectiveness, but little is known about board members' predisposition to training. While there is research based consensus about training needs for school board members, little is known about trustees' predisposition and how that temperament impacts in-service. This research contributes to the body of knowledge by exploring these topics with selected participants. There is a lack of research-based knowledge about perceptions regarding training and development for Montana public school board trustees. The purpose of this research was to gather data from Montana public school trustees and superintendents regarding perceptions of training for school board members. Preferred methods of delivery for training and development, as well as who should be the primary instructor for training school board trustees was also examined.
Utilizing Key Work for School Boards as the standard for knowledge and performance for school trustees and working through a learning model framework entitled the Learning Stages Model that characterizes dispositions towards training, this research provides data about the continuum of learning for school board trustees. In addition to assisting superintendents and school boards, this research educates and informs advocacy groups, professional associations, universities, and the public regarding training and development for school trustees. Trustees in the study generally judged themselves ill-prepared to serve and believed that being a parent was their best prior preparation for school board service. Trustees in the study looked to the board chair versus the superintendent to provide training. Trustee and superintendent participants preferred locally developed and delivered training in part because of time constraints. While training was perceived to be important, most trustees did not progress through a learning continuum of incompetent to competent. Overall, even though trustees were deficient in the skill and knowledge standards developed by the National School Boards Association, they were not seeking training to become proficient to be able to fully understand the job they have been elected to do.




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