The Truth about eXceptional Governance

By Phil Gore, PhD, TASB Leadership Team Services

Four smiling board membersLearning at TASB’s second XG Summit continued to reinforce the strongest research findings—boards in districts that are improving in stu­dent achievement govern differently than boards in districts declining in achievement. In other words, school boards and what you do matters. It makes a difference for the students in your district. We’re understanding eXceptional Governance as illustrat­ed by the acronym FAST because successful boards Focus, Align, Stretch, and Track.

eXceptional Governance isn’t a method or program—it’s the result of a committed team of citizens exer­cising visionary leadership, focused on student achievement, establish­ing a district culture of excellence, governing through policy, exercising fiscal responsibility, and advocating and engaging their local community. Boards intentionally minding these priorities are practicing eXceptional Governance.

XG boards maintain focus and com­mitment to the overarching question, “How are the students doing in our district?” They can answer that question with data from multiple sources. They advocate for the work of the district and engage their com­munity in understanding not only how the students are doing but also the district initiatives under way to improve student learning. They can articulate what their expectations and hopes are for their administra­tors and teachers to improve student outcomes.

Again, eXceptional Governance is not merely a prescription or a fad, it is a culture of excellence that stands the test of time. XG Boards have high expectations—not only for their students, administrators, and staff, but also for themselves. XG Boards model and lead a culture of accountability. They’re not top-down, heavy-handed dictators; they’re ser­vant-leaders, who model discipline, commitment, and accountability for growth. They are leaders in learning, civil discourse, and debating com­plex long-term issues. They own their process and results.

XG Boards are self-governing. They don’t need the state or another outside entity to oversee or direct their work. They are not individual actors, vying for the limelight, or sim­ply doing their own thing. They are not politicians striving for popularity and governing according to public opinion. They are trustees—stew­ards of the public’s trust—governing on behalf of the public’s two most precious resources.

Looking for next steps to make eXceptional Governance a reality for your board? For information or coach­ing on what eXceptional Governance looks like in your district, contact TASB’s Leadership Team Services, and join the XG Project.