Effective school board governance behaviors of Montana School Board members: a Delphi study

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


School board governance matters. Past research has demonstrated that effective school boards are associated with higher student achievement. However, this research has been less clear about what those agreed upon effective practices are. The current study set out to identify effective school board governance practices and to determine the extent expert panelists agreed with these practices. Obstacles to effective governance were also identified and agreed upon. Differences in responses from panelists in five sizes of school districts were also explored. Using a Delphi methodology, expert panelists in Montana provided information in the form of narratives and lists about their perceptions of effective school board practices as well as their encountered obstacles during round one. Qualitative analysis techniques were used to create a set of effective practices and a set of encountered obstacles. Further refinement was accomplished by using two additional rounds in which panelists provided feedback, reconsidered their responses and provided additional comments. A set of 17 highly agreed upon effective practices and a set of two highly agree upon obstacles resulted. From this data, a model of effective school board governance was developed. This model aligns well with past research that was conducted based upon outside sources of judgment, such as high test scores. However, some important deviations from past recommendations are also noted. Data from the current study places an increased emphasis on the actual operations of school boards, such as on the types of discussions that are held, as well as the mechanics of productive and collaborative school board meetings. The power of school boards occurs when acting collectively as a group in a school board meeting and this study supports focusing improvement efforts in making that time more effective. School board members many gain knowledge and experience individually, but it is only through working together that they shape and guide the cultures that are needed to improve our public schools for the future.




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