Twelve Practices to Improve Student Learning

By Phil Gore, PhD, TASB Board Development Services

Trustees at txEDCON2019







                                                            Paul A. Johnson summarized key findings on the ways that school boards affect student achievement in his research article “School Board Governance: The Times Are A-Changin’.” Johnson, a professor and school board member who works in superintendent preparation, outlined 12 key practices associated with higher student achievement :

  1. Creating a vision
  2. Using data
  3. Setting goals
  4. Monitoring progress
  5. Creating awareness and urgency
  6. Engaging the community Connecting with district leadership
  7. Creating climate
  8. Supporting staff development
  9. Developing policy with a focus on student learning
  10. Demonstrating commitment
  11. Practicing unified governance

Practicing unified governance and engaging the community are two key areas that seem to affect student achievement in Texas.

Effective school boards are committed to each other and work collaboratively with their superintendent to improve student learning.

Districts with increasing student achievement demonstrate a strong, long-term commitment to improving student success. They care deeply about their work—and their colleagues—and they challenge each other to maintain accountability and continued progress. Johnson explains that they share a commitment to a purpose greater than themselves. They fulfill this purpose by practicing unified governance, which helps to improve student achievement.

Effective school boards intentionally engage their community to accomplish the district’s vision and goals.

These boards view community engagement as critical when defining priorities, setting goals, and establishing a vision. This creates ownership and commitment within the community to district improvement. Highly effective boards establish and maintain partnerships throughout the community, which fosters open dialogue and ensures progress toward the vision. They use a variety of opportunities to engage different groups, often hosting monthly coffees, forums, and focus groups. Surveys and social media are additional ways effective boards engage their community and garner support for improvement in student learning.

Johnson’s principles provide a framework for good governance. Your board can use them to support efforts to improve student learning in your district. What is one area in which your board is going to improve this year? Tell us at #XGSummitTalks.

Johnson is a scheduled presenter at TASB’s XG Summit in Austin, November 9–10, 2020. Visit to learn more about the next XG Summit and watch for Paul Johnson’s upcoming TASB Talks podcast on improving student achievement through governance.