Department of Educational Administration


Advisory Groups in Pennsylvania School Districts

Rebecca Joella, University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Document Type Article

A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Education, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor Donald F. Uerling. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2010
Copyright 2010 Rebecca Ann Joella.


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore characteristics of non-mandated standing advisory groups in all 501 school districts in Pennsylvania from the perspective of each group‘s administrator or leader. For the purpose of this study, advisory groups in school districts mandated by federal and state laws were excluded. Given this large participant population, online research instruments were used. A survey was initially emailed to all school districts superintendents. A follow up questionnaire was then sent to the contact person for the advisory group if the superintendent indicated utilization. An interview was then conducted with the advisory group contact persons for each school district.

The results of this study were organized into three main categories: reasons for creating advisory groups, outcomes of the advisory groups, and best practices of advisory groups. The data in each category were coded and three themes emerged in each category.

The themes for advisory groups include creation for a specific goal, creation for a specific problem, or creation for a means of communication. The themes for outcomes of the advisory groups were attainment of a goal, resolution of a problem, and dissemination of information about the district into the community. Finally, the themes for best practices of advisory groups included selecting suitable advisory group members, setting guidelines for meetings, and promoting attendance at meetings.

Participants offered advice to school districts contemplating starting an advisory group, as well as tips for success. Some of these tips were scheduling meetings at times convenient for most participants, opening the group to diverse members including those who have opposition to an issue, and establishing rules and procedures for how the group operates.