School boards have a central position in educational governance. They have to guarantee quality, monitor results and intervene if needed. In this article we report the results of a systematic literature review meant to identify what school boards do to contribute to educational quality. After five steps of literature selection and refinement, our initial database of 4939 was reduced to 16 empirical articles. This shows that there is actually very little empirical research on the relation between boards and educational quality. Looking more closely at the 16 remaining studies, we notice differences in the reach, quality and applied methods. Moreover, the differences between boards are considerable when looking at board composition and the scope of their autonomy. Altogether, these differences make it difficult to come up with general findings on how boards can contribute to educational quality. Nevertheless, we also found promising large-scale studies that offer a better understanding of the complex nature of the effects that boards may have on educational quality. Furthermore, in almost all of the studies, educational quality is operationalised as students’ test results, indicating a narrow perspective on educational quality.
Americas and the Caribbean