School board governance is an important issue in the advancement of 21st century learning. As the evidence mounts on the critical role that boards play in impacting student achievement, School boards must see their knowledge and beliefs transformed to empower families to own their student’s educational journey. This notion carries through among administrators and teachers and the districts. According to results of a research study released by the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB), school boards in districts with high student achievement:
• Consistently expressed the belief that all students can learn and that the school could teach all students.
This "no excuses" belief system resulted in high standards for students and an on‐going dedication to improvement. In low‐achieving districts, board members had limited expectations and often focused on factors that they believed kept students from learning, such as poverty, lack of parental support or societal factors. The oncoming conversion to common core will inevitably bring the stress of change to your schools and district. Its more important than ever that standards and expectations remain high. Incredible work follows incredible expectations.
• Were far more knowledgeable about teaching and learning issues, including school improvement goals, curriculum, instruction, assessment and staff development.
They were able to clearly describe the purposes and processes of school improvement efforts and identify the board's role in supporting those efforts. They could give specific examples of how district goals were being carried out by administrators and teachers.
• Used data and other information on student needs and results to make decisions.
The high achieving boards regularly monitored progress on improvement efforts and modified direction as a result.
• Created a supportive workplace for staff.
Boards in high‐achieving districts supported regular staff development to help teachers be more effective, supported shared leadership and decision making among staff, and regularly expressed appreciation for staff members. It must be understood that 21st century learning can happen anywhere; and teachers must understand both the mechanics as well as the context of digital learning to be effective. Boards must be creative in helping staff ‘learn while teaching’.
• Involved their communities.
Board members identified how they connect with and listen to their communities and focused on involving parents in education. Effective school board governance of the 21st century is a fluid process whereby boards make the important educational decisions for their local community; continually determine and seek out those local, state and national stakeholders critical to ensuring successful outcomes for students; and operate with transparency as they hold themselves accountable to their communities. Twenty‐first century governance must see the community as a resource, this include parents, business and community groups all at the table with a role in addressing educational and societal needs of students.
Strong, collaborative leadership by the governance team is a key cornerstone of the foundation for high student achievement. That leadership is essential to forming a community vision for children, crafting long range goals and plans for raising the achievement of every child, improving the professional development and status of teachers and other staff, and ensuring that the guidance, support, and resources needed for success are available. The governance team of the 21st century must work cooperatively and collaboratively to mobilize their communities to aid in directing the educational services of today’s students with future ready skills for optimal success and productivity to face the challenges of tomorrow.