Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

C. James Hardy


Quality public schools are linked to the effectiveness of their school boards, and voting for local trustees, elected lay men and women, impacts the overall condition of local communities (Foster, 2014). Experts believe school board adeptness and efficiency can be increased by improving procedures (Sell, 2005). Looking through the lens of institutional theory, the purpose of this study was to examine the implementation of Richard Scott’s three pillars of institutionalization (regulative, normative, and cultural-cognitive forces) through exploring specific procedures of TASA Honor Boards as compared to demographically similar boards. This study relied on content analysis of school board meeting minutes from five recognized TASA Honor Boards and five non-awarded boards from comparable school districts, as well as specific documentation from Honor Board nomination packets. Past studies involving school boards show effective boards are the result of deliberate and focused efforts (Richardson, 2009). These efforts can be aligned with normative, cultural-cognitive, and regulative forces of institutional theory to help future school boards be recognized for their effectiveness and to impact the school district and student achievement in a positive way. The research revealed that Honor Boards are immersed in decision-making action items that are more balanced and distributed among the three pillars of institutional theory more so than in the case of comparable school boards. There is evidence showing specific attention to the normative pillar, such as networking and connections with educational agencies and associations, occurs with more frequency in Honor Boards than with non-awarded boards. These results align with the research that reveals the normative element as promoting collaboration and how legitimate connections with other organizations help demonstrate and support the success of an institution’s practices (Dacin, Goodstein, & Scott, 2002). According to Scott (2004), for an institution to be considered legitimate, the organization needs to generate action; when examining specific school board meeting minutes in this study, the evidence suggests that Honor Boards are shown to take more action than other school boards. These non-awarded boards showed a pattern of putting off more decisions until a later date, and a fewer number of action items occurred overall written in the board meeting minutes of the non-awarded boards than in the Honor Board meetings. In summation, Scott (2013) explains that actions are institutionalized, and are surrounded by a common set of normative standards. The standards here are set by the Texas Association of School Administrators and Honor Board criteria set by TASA. The trustees are acting to meet those standards while working through each of the three institutional pillars in a more balanced manner with the Honor Boards than the school boards of the other comparable districts.


TASA honor boards, School boards, Institutional theory


Education | Educational Leadership


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington