National School Board Survey

Chen, J. A. (2008). The role of school boards, their governance practices and sense of effectiveness in suburban, urban, and rural settings in the United States. EdD dissertation, Dowling College.


The survey, developed by a group of faculty (L. Bishop and R. Manley) and doctoral students at Dowling College in 2003, contains 73 Likert-type items that focus on the level of participation of school board members in nine areas of governance. Two open-ended questions (qualitative) focus on the changing role of school board members.


The participants consisted of 247 school board members (from a pool of 300) who were either appointed or elected from each of the 50 states. The school board members represented K–12 school districts. From each state, two city and two neighboring suburban and rural districts were chosen.


Alpha coefficients are 0.97 (teamwork), 0.73 (financial planning), 0.82 (policy orientation), 0.79 (academic assessment), 0.77 (financial management), 0.69 (curriculum evaluation), 0.65 (technology investment), 0.67 (curriculum investment), 0.65 (financial analysis), and 0.88 (board effectiveness).


Construct validity was obtained through factor analysis.

Factor Analysis:

A 10-factor equamax solution was accepted with eigenvalues ranging from 1.33 to 23.0. Nine factors relate to the dimensions of governance and the tenth factor relates to board effectiveness. The 10 factors are: 12 items on teamwork (18, 19, 32, 43, 44, 46, 47, 49, 70, 71, 72, and 73); six items on financial planning (12, 20, 21, 26, 40, and 48); seven items on policy orientation (5, 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, and 17); five items on academic assessment (51, 52, 53, 54, and 61); seven items on financial management (23, 34, 36, 38, 39, 41, and 69); four items on curriculum evaluation (1, 3, 6, and 10); three items on technology investment (15, 27, and 60); four items on curriculum investment (55, 56, 64, and 65); four items on financial analysis (37, 57, 62, and 63); and 10 items on the dependent variable of board effectiveness (9, 16, 24, 25, 30, 35, 42, 66, 67, and 68). Factor loadings, communalities, eigenvalues, etc., are reported.

Data Analysis:

Descriptive statistics reported the means and frequencies for the nine components of school board governance. An item analysis was performed to determine any distinctive patterns or discrepancies for each item.

An analysis of variance was performed to determine any differences in attitudes among suburban, urban, and rural school board members and the nine dimensions of governance and board effectiveness. A Pearson Product-Moment correlation matrix was used to analyze the relationships among school board members and governance, board effectiveness, gender, age, and years of board experience. A regression analysis was performed to determine what, if any of the dimensions of governance among the boards of education predict their effectiveness. A content analysis was conducted to identify similarities and differences in the patterns of responses among the three types of districts for male and female board members.


Burak, M. (2006). The relationship of governance practices to effectiveness moderated by curriculum responsibilities in urban and suburban school board members in the northeast region of the United States. EdD dissertation, Dowling College.

Eisenberg, C. (2004). New York State school board members’ attitudes towards school governance, finance practices, conflict, team- work and board effectiveness. EdD dissertation, Dowling College.

Feltman, J. A. (2003). The relationship between four components of governance and coercive power among school board trustees in selected Suffolk County, New York school districts. EdD dissertation, Dowling College.

Grucci, C. (2003). Executive team stability and school board members’ attitudes toward school finance and governance practices in selected Nassau County, Long Island, New York, school districts. EdD dissertation, Dowling College.

Hawkins, R. (2003). The relationship of team learning and the four components of governance practices among school board members in Suffolk County, Long Island. EdD dissertation, Dowling College.

National School Board Survey

1. Our board requires instructional leaders to present an evaluation of the literacy/reading curriculum for our primary grades.
2. Our board provides leadership for the financial plan of the district.
3. Our board requires instructional leaders to present an evaluation of the math curriculum.
4. Our board members evaluate policies about hiring of staff.
5. Our board has a policy that defines the purpose of education.
6. Our board requires administration to compare curriculum programs with those of other districts.
7. Our board matches district-wide policies with the mission and objectives of the district.
8. Our board allows for community participation.
9. Our board has training and educational programs to promote its own growth and development.
10. Our board uses an assessment of student needs to verify that the curriculum is aligned to these needs.
11. Our board has formal reports about student achievement.

12. Our board focuses on its role in policy making.
13. Our board provides policy to develop the district’s mission statement.
14. Our board is attentive to the ethnic and multicultural needs of the school district.
15. Our board provides sufficient funds for staff to receive appropriate staff development.
16. Our board president advises trustees on their responsibilities as board members.
17. Our board uses demographic trends in its planning.
18. Our board has respectful communications with the superintendent.
19. In public session, our board members exhibit respect for each other.
20. Our board reviews the financial impact of state aid projections.
21. Our board has a process to gather information from a variety of sources.
22. Our board considers current research during the process of decision making.
23. Our board routinely asks questions at the monthly meeting on the treasurer’s report, which includes the investment report and cash reconciliation report.
24. Our board committee assignments are based upon the expertise of board members.
25. I have participated in board discussions about the effectiveness of our performance.
26. Our board creates policies to achieve district goals.
27. Our board ensures that current technology equipment is accessible to students.
28. Our board has a structured method for analyzing data in the process of making decisions.
29. Our board assesses progress toward its goals.
30. Our board conducts an orientation program for new members.
31. Our board has designed a method to solicit community input.
32. Our board works together for a common purpose.
33. Our board has created policy to guide negotiations with bargaining units.
34. Our board matches revenues against planned expenditures on a monthly basis.
35. When a new member joins the board, we make sure someone serves as a mentor to help the person learn the ropes.
36. Our board considers the financial impact on all community groups in the development of its financial multiyear plan.
37. I can recall an occasion when the board acknowledged its responsibility for making an imprudent decision.
38. Our board routinely asks for justification at the monthly meeting when a transfer of appropriations between codes is requested.
39. Our board reviews fund balance projections at least twice a year to anticipate modifications in the current year’s spending plan.
40. Our board compares the cost of instructional school-wide programs with regional standards for future improve- ments.
41. Most people on the board learn about their roles and responsibilities through explicit discussion and training.
42. Our board works together with respect and trust.
43. Our board uses individual skills to help each other.
44. Our board provides leadership by requesting data concerning issues facing the school district.
45. Our board makes a real effort to understand each other’s perspectives.
46. Our board reviews alternative financing plans for capital projects in order to project costs and select the best option.
47. Our board acts according to shared beliefs.
48. Our board examines the annual budget to determine the impact on educational programs.
49. Our board recognizes our interdependence and enjoys working together.
50. Our board reviews census and enrollment projections to forecast future budgetary needs.
51. Our board requires an analysis of those students who fail to meet curriculum standards.
52. Our board identifies that current curriculum guides are aligned with state standards.
53. Our board annually conducts hearings on our students’ academic performance.
54. Our board requires administrators to evaluate the impact of staff development activities on teaching.
55. Our board funds a variety of electives for students on the high school level.
56. Our board funds a science research program for high school students.
57. Our board funds music programs in all of our schools.
58. Our board funds art programs in all of our schools.
59. Our board financially supports the students wishing to take advanced placement courses.

60. Our board requires assessments of the use of technology in the classroom.
61. Our board requires a review of teacher surveys regarding their satisfaction with the district’s technology for instruction.
62. Our board requires administration to participate in cooperative bidding programs to reduce costs.
63. Our board requests an analysis of ongoing costs of proposed projects before committing taxpayer dollars to any project.
64. Our board supports competitive salaries to recruit highly qualified teachers.
65. Our board endorses a low student teacher ratio in the classroom to promote learning.
66. I have participated in discussions with new members of this board about the roles and responsibilities of membership.
67. I have received helpful feedback on my performance as a member of this board.
68. This board has conducted an explicit examination of our roles and responsibilities.
69. I have participated in board discussions about what we should do differently as a result of a mistake the board made.
70. Our board cooperates with each other to achieve the board’s vision.
71. Our board assumes good faith in its members.
72. Our board enjoys working as a team.
73. Our board uses constructive criticism to help each other.
74. Please describe how your perceptions of what it means to serve on a local board of education have changed since you were first elected.
75. Since you were elected, has the role of a school board member changed? If so, how?


Strongly Disagree = 1; Disagree = 2; Slightly Agree = 3; Agree = 4; and Strongly Agree = 5.