Building a mosaic of trust: Identifying key antecedents of public trust toward improving school board performance

Rebecca Jill Pittman, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this mixed method study is to identify antecedents of trust building behavior toward establishing effective school board governance practices. The research question in this paper seeks to determine if there are differences in the way constituents perceive the trusteeship role in achieving the board's value proposition. This analytical case study focuses on a set of key reform strategies identified in literature as critical factors outside the school that support and sustain quality public education. The Civic Index, developed by Public Education Network, was used as the conceptual framework for the study. The selected key reform strategies were: (a) Education Leadership of Local Elected Officials, (b) Commitment to the Values of Tolerance and Inclusiveness, (c) Active Parents, (d) Strong Civic Organizations, (e) Utilization of School Performance Data to Improve School Quality, and (f) Media Coverage (Public Education Network, 2008a). Surveys administered to constituent citizens provided a focus for evaluating which areas were identified as antecedents of public trust. The study describes the value proposition formulated by the district at the time of the superintendent's arrival and the steps identified in the district's strategic plan that correlate to achievement of the board's vision. This work aimed to provide the district studied with useful findings that could be leveraged by the school board toward evaluating its own practice. This research adds to growing body of literature linking citizen participation to performance management among public agencies. School boards have not previously been addressed in trust theory literature; therefore, the study contributes to the broad body of knowledge by seeking to empirically measure levels of public trust that might explain motives for citizen engagement or disengagement from the nation's most ubiquitous government body. Results indicated that there was significant correlation between perceived levels of quality civic engagement and trust of the school board. Statistical analyses conducted using ANOVA to compare sampled populations showed that respondents differed in their trust levels of board members to listen to diverse stakeholders about providing public school options for all families.

Subject Area

School administration|Public administration

Recommended Citation

Rebecca Jill Pittman, "Building a mosaic of trust: Identifying key antecedents of public trust toward improving school board performance" (2011). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3454457.