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. While the scope of board responsibility is defined differently in every state, there are common areas of jurisdiction.

These include:

  • Setting statewide curriculum standards;
  • Establishing high school graduation requirements;
  • Determining qualifications for professional education personnel;
  • Establishing state accountability and assessment programs;
  • Establishing standards for accreditation of local school districts and preparation programs for teachers and administrators;
  • Implementing the No Child Left Behind Act and administration of state programs;
  • Developing rules and regulations for the administration of state programs.

State boards of education play key roles in maintaining and improving the quality of public schools that include the following:

Policymaker:

The state board is responsible for policies that promote educational quality throughout the state. In this capacity, the board defines the fundamental mission of the state’s education system and develops the system’s long-range goals. In order to meet these goals, the board enacts appropriate regulations, lobbies for necessary legislation, develops an adequate education budget, supports local implementation efforts, oversees the state department of education, and regularly measures the performance of the system.

Advocate for Education:

The state board serves as the primary advocate for a quality education for all children and youth in the state. As such, the board seeks to promote excellence in the education of all students and advocates equality of access to educational opportunity.

Liaison:

The state boards serves as a bridge between educators and others involved in education policy. It translates the concerns of the general public, elected officials, business leaders and civic groups into policy and clearly communicates them to educators. At the same time, the board articulates the needs of the education system to the state’s public and private constituencies and helps assure continued citizen support for education at a time when fewer adults have children in school.

Consensus builder:

The state board encourages communication and consensus among all those who seek to influence current state education policies and help formulate long-range policy goals and plans. Although occurrence may not always be possible, a commitment to consensus building ensures that all citizens will be heard. State boards ensure that the public voice is represented in decisions about public education.

If you have any questions, please contact us at: boards@nasbe.org.

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