Date of Award

Spring 6-10-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Thomas Alsbury

Second Advisor

William Prenevost

Third Advisor

John Bond


School Board Governance, Decision-Output Theory, Balanced Governance Approach®, Individual Board Member Characteristics, Grounded Theory Approach, chi-square Fisher’s Exact Test Structural Equation Modeling


Our country has a moral and ethical responsibility to educate all students. The right to an education is fundamental to the American values. Locally elected school boards have received significant scrutiny as questions have been asked about their ability to provide adequate and effective governance such that student achievement increases. This mixed-methods research study provides empirical support for the efficacy of publicly elected school boards being linked to improved student achievement results. This research study draws from school boards located in Washington State. A purposeful population sample of 23 school districts were selected based on specific criteria for inclusion in the research study. The sample was evaluated for appropriate distribution across demographic, geographic, and academic factors. Academic data was used to categorize each school district as (1) low performing or (2) high performing. The sample consisted of 13 low performing districts and 10 high performing districts.

Direct observation was conducted using previously recorded audio and video school board meetings. The Grounded Theory Approach was used to collect, code, and analyze the observations. The individual school board characteristics from the Balanced Governance Approach® were used as the observational categories and were used for coding the observational data. These data were transformed into categorical data indicating two categories: (1) not effective and (2) effective.

The district performance and school board effectiveness categorical data were used to run inferential statistics using Pearson’s chi-square test for independence and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). P values from chi-square and Fisher’s Exact Test indicate a statistically significant relationship between six of the 10 individual school board characteristics® and significance was also reached when evaluating the characteristics as a single variable. SEM provided insights into the interactions and effects the 10 individual board member characteristics® had on the dependent variable of improved student achievement.

The findings of this research study confirm and extend the empirical evidence that has been presented over the last 20 years linking school board characteristics and improved student achievement results.

Keywords: School board, Governance, Student Achievement Index, Decision-Output Theory, Balanced Governance Approach®, Individual Board Member Characteristics, Grounded Theory Approach, chi-square, Fisher’s Exact Test, Structural Equation Modeling