Book Review

Collective Trust

Why Schools Can’t Improve Without It

by Patrick B. Forsyth, Curt M. Adams and Wayne K. Hoy, Teachers College Press, New York, N.Y., 2011, 218 pp. with index, $45.95 softcover


The team of writers behind Collective Trust: Why Schools Can’t Improve Without It has provided a comprehensive review of the research and implications for schools. The no-nonsense title sums up why the issue is an important one — every successful administrator knows that a culture of trust is fundamental to achieving productive schools.


Patrick B. Forsyth and Curt M. Adams are professors of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Oklahoma, and Wayne K. Hoy is the Fawcett chair in educational administration at Ohio State University. They say that collective trust emerges from social interactions within and among groups.

The book familiarizes the reader with the body of research on the three forms of collective trust that have been studied in schools: faculty trust, parent trust and student trust. By summarizing organizational trust research and discussing specific implications in schools, the authors advocate making “trust the linchpin of reform diffusion.”

The book provides a set of policy guidelines that support collective trust as well as guidelines for leadership practice. Several pages of appendices offer questionnaires to measure the types of trust in a school.

Steeped in research, this book would be excellent as a supplementary resource for leadership, school culture or community relations coursework. For the school principal or district superintendent, the part on practice and synthesis may be the most helpful, with the final two chapters and epilogue summarizing information for the practitioner.

Reviewed by Marilyn King, assistant superintendent, Bozeman Public Schools, Bozeman, Mont.