Research into effective school board leadership is challenging because a useful and sufficiently scaled data capture of school board behaviors is complicated to define and expensive to acquire. In its absence, research on school boards often relies on very small samples of school board member surveys. This has some utility and has matured the research literature to its current state, but its limitations are abundant and drawing broadly applicable answers for school boards — let alone answers that are likely to create the context for improved student outcomes — is challenging. In addition, funding for research into school board leadership is a low or non-existent priority for many of the organizations that invest in research concerning district-wide or school-based leadership.
The Effective School Boards Initiative (ESBI) will increase research into how school boards most effectively create the conditions for improving student outcomes by solving data availability challenges most researchers cannot solve on their own. By working collaboratively with fellow school board leaders across the nation, we will create a comprehensive database of coded school board meetings using a coding manual that has been created with the intention of being as desirable and as accessible to researchers as possible.
The resulting data is being made available first to participants and partners of the initiative, and then ultimately made publicly available for use by other research institutions and organizations.