actual policymaking process.”
The final component of Phase One is a second BGR.
“Boards typically assess themselves more critically at the
end of the 18 months,” Peifer says. “We believe the reason
for that is they’ve finally learned what good governance looks
Requiring seven to nine sessions totaling 23 to 29 hours,
Phase Two of TAG is optional and begins with a needs
IASB’s Foundational Principles of
1.The Board Clarifies the District Purpose As its primary task, the board continually defines,
articulates and re-defines district ends to answer the
recurring question: Who gets what benefits for how
much? Effective ends development requires attention
to at least two key concerns: student learning and
2.The Board Connects With the Community The school board engages in an ongoing two-way
conversation with the entire community. This conversation enables the board to hear and understand the
community’s educational aspirations and desires, to
serve effectively as an advocate for district improvement and to inform the community of the district’s
3.The Board Employs a Superintendent The board employs and evaluates one person —
the superintendent — and holds that person accountable for district performance and compliance with
written board policy.
4.The Board Delegates Authority The board delegates authority to the superintendent to manage the district and provide leadership
for the staff. Such authority is communicated through
written board policies that designate district ends and
define operating parameters.
5.The Board Monitors Performance The board constantly monitors progress toward
district ends and compliance with written board policies using data as the basis for assessment.
6.The Board Takes Responsibility for Itself The board, collectively and individually, takes
full responsibility for board activity and behavior —
the work it chooses to do and how it chooses to do
the work. Individual board members are obligated to
express their opinions and respect others’ opinions;
however, board members understand the importance of
the board ultimately speaking with one clear voice.
assessment, which is followed by a series of elective courses
chosen based on board priorities. “Phase One is your first two
years in college, where you’re taking required courses,” Clark
says. “Phase Two is your junior and senior year, where you’re
in your major and can take the courses you want.”
Throughout both phases of the program, the goal remains
the same: TAG teaches board members the difference
between governance and management so they can be more
strategic and less tactical, resulting in school districts where
learning supersedes lobbying.
“One of the biggest challenges, even with the most
well intentioned board members, is learning the difference
between governance and management,” Clark says. “We call
it the view from the balcony: Board members stay up in the
balcony so they can look at the big picture; everybody else —
the superintendent and staff — is down on the dance floor,
getting the job done.”
Adds Talbert, “Historically, school boards were there for
fiscal oversight and hiring the right superintendent. But as
we’ve moved over the last 20 years into an education reform
environment, it’s become more important for school boards
to also be accountable for learning in their district. This pro-
gram helps school boards think about their role as leaders as
it relates to student achievement.”
Given the time commitment and other challenges, such as
school board turnover, persuading members to participate in
TAG hasn’t always been easy. In the end, however, almost
everyone who completes the program is glad they did.
“It was a lot of work, but well worth it,” says Carol Auer,
Ed.D., superintendent of Keeneyville Elementary School
District 20 in Bloomingdale, Hanover Park, Keeneyville and
Roselle, Ill. Her board completed TAG training in 2007 and
used it to create a new district policy on delivery of instruc-
tion that mandates diversity, data-based decision making and
parental involvement. “TAG helped our board build a culture
that’s devoted to student learning, and at the same time it
was a teambuilding process that really brought our board
Keeneyville isn’t alone. Since TAG’s introduction in 2004,
IASB has spent approximately $2 million in grant funds to
work with boards of education in 127 Illinois school districts.
That’s nearly 15 percent of all districts in the state.
According to IASB, TAG is successful for several reasons.
In the context of the Great Recession, one of those reasons is
that the program — IASB’s only grant-funded work — is free,
which is a major benefit to struggling districts. Another is its
“whole-board” approach to training and development, which
IASB plans to emulate for other programs that traditionally
have been delivered only to individual school board members.
Ultimately, though, TAG works well because boards work
“The boards that get the most out of TAG are the boards
that make the most commitment,” Johnson says. “If you
think about it, each phase of TAG includes approximately
30 hours of training, which is more training than you get for