State Boards of Education

State boards of education are integral to the governance of public education in the United States. State Boards, operating as a lay body over state education, are intended to serve as an unbiased broker for education decisionmaking, focusing on the big picture, articulating the long-term vision and needs of public education, and making policy based on the best interests of the public and the young people of America.

State Education Governance: State-by-State Matrix (updated October 2018)

State Education Governance: At a Glance (updated June 2018)

About State Boards of Education

State Board of Education Responsibilities

While the scope of board responsibility varies from state to state, state boards share common areas of jurisdiction: statewide curriculum standards; high school graduation requirements; qualiϐications for professional education personnel; state accountability and assessment programs; standards for accreditation of local school districts and preparation programs for teachers and administrators; the administration of federal assistance programs; and the development of rules and regulations for the administration of state programs.

Power of State Boards

State boards of education are different in every state. Some are created by the state constitution, others by statute. Some members are elected and some appointed. But all boards and board members have three important areas in which they exercise power:

  • The Power of Policy. The state board is responsible for policies that promote educational quality throughout the state, defining the fundamental mission of the state’s education system and developing the system’s long-range goals. To meet these goals, the board enacts appropriate regulations, advocates for necessary legislation, develops an adequate education budget, supports local implementation efforts, oversees the state education agency, and regularly measures the performance of the system.
    The Power of Convening. The state board considers input from a wide range of stakeholders when making policy: educators, the business community, elected officials, parents, and students. Frequently, state boards will bring together groups of stakeholders to solicit their input on issues to come before the board. At other times, the board may convene a group of experts on a particular issue. The state board serves as a bridge between educators and others involved in education policy.
    The Power of the Question. Board members can and should ask questions about policies that come before the board. As the citizen voice in education, they should not hesitate to ask about the potential impact of any policy they are asked to adopt. Boards will ϐind the power of the question particularly beneficial in areas where they lack direct policy authority but still seek a positive impact and influence. 
Who Are NASBE Members?

State boards operate as lay bodies in state education policymaking, serving as an unbiased broker for education decision making, articulating the long-term vision and needs of public education, and making policy in the best interests of the public and the young people of America. NASBE is a nonprofit, nonpartisan entity whose diverse members come from both political parties. NASBE’s members are state boards of education themselves. Any individual who sits on a state board has access to NASBE member services. 

NASBE also has two affiliate associations. The National Council of State Board of Education Executives (NCSBEE) comprises those in charge of helping the state board accomplish its work effectively and efficiently. Their responsibilities vary from state to state, and they are members of NASBE and NCSBEE by virtue of their state boards being members of NASBE. The National Council of State Education Attorneys (NCOSEA) is composed of attorneys who work most usually for both the state education agency and the state board of education.

Read about the rich history of state boards of education in NASBE at 60

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