The Key Work of School Boards

An Updated Framework for Improving Student Achievement

Key Work of School Boards components for student achievement: vision, accountability, policy, community leadership, relationships.

We know what a good school board looks like. The impressive results are evident when a board of education makes student achievement the primary focus.

We have identified the core skills that effective boards need to ensure that all students achieve at high levels. Together these skills form a framework for effective school governance. We call this the Key Work of School Boards. With these skills, boards can guide their vision to fruition by exploring, questioning, assessing, and working with others to improve outcomes for today’s students as well as America’s next generation.

These web pages highlight all the features you can find in the Key Work of School Boards Guidebook. The full guidebook is available as a softcover version and as a LumiBook™ e-reader in NSBA's Bookstore.

New Updates, New Areas of Focus

In the newly updated version of the Key Work of School Boards Guidebook, we’ve preserved the best content from previous editions while expanding the scope of pertinent Key Work areas. This new edition focuses on five subject areas that provide a comprehensive overview of your key governance responsibilities.

Vision Key Work


Effective school boards establish a clear vision with high expectations for quality teaching and learning that supports strong student outcomes.

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Key Work Accountability


High academic standards, transparency, and accountability undergird a world-class education.

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Policy Key Work


Policy is how a board sustainably exercises power to serve students. Through policy, school boards establish a set of cohesive guidelines to transform vision into reality.

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Community Leadership Key Work

Community Leadership

Through public advocacy and community engagement, school boards share their concerns and actions with the public.

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Board/Superintendent Relationships Key Work

Board/Superintendent Relationships

Both the school board and the superintendent have essential leadership roles that are interconnected but different.

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