School districts see better results when school board members have an academic focus
A 2014 analysis pinpoints the characteristics of individual school board members that improve a district's chances of outperforming similar districts.
A school board's makeup affects the educational outcomes of a district, says Arnold Shober, professor of government at Lawrence University.
In a 2014 study, "Does School Board Leadership Matter?", Shober and his coauthor found that half of board members around the nation were focused on academics. The other half took a more "whole child" approach, prioritizing factors such as "love, support, encouragement." The districts with academically focused school board members got better test scores.
Other characteristics that are favorable to a district's performance are board members who are selected in on-cycle elections and are informed about things like district finances and class size.
One disappointing discovery according to Shober was that board members who had served as long-time teachers or administrators "were not actually very good at assessing kind of where their district really was."
- Arnold Shober, professor of government at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.