Since the early 1990s, CEI has been helping public schools use a “partnership school” model, which is often also referred to as a “community school” model. The reasons we prefer to use the term “partnership school” are twofold. First, “community” can imply that outreach is limited to the local geographical area around a school. While engaging local community-based organizations is crucial, schools in New York City benefit from working with the many organizations that are not neighborhood-specific (cultural institutions, museums, nonprofits, colleges, etc.) in forming partnerships as well. Second, “partnership” articulates the level of responsibility and engagement that all parties—the school leadership and staff, parents, partner organizations—must commit to in order to achieve success. Everyone has a “stake” in the school and students’ performance when they are partners in the endeavor.
Currently, the National Network Partnership Schools (NNPS) model developed by Johns Hopkins University best captures the approach that CEI-PEA takes in helping schools become “partnership schools.” Key elements of the NNPS model are as follows:
- Action Team for Partnerships – The Action Team for Partnerships (ATP) is typically comprised of 6 to 12 members and includes the principal, 2-3 teachers, 2-3 parents, 2-3 students and the parent coordinator, as well as members of partner organizations. When a school is new to formalizing partnership programs, they may choose 2-3 target partner groups and invite them to participate on the ATP; once partnerships are established representatives from their 2-3 key partner organizations should be part of the ATP. The ATP is responsible for the following: writing the annual Action Plan for Partnerships (APP), informing the school and community about the APP, recruiting participants in APP activities and programs, recognizing and honoring accomplishments of individuals and groups working in the APP, monitor progress, document results and resolve issues related to the APP.
- Annual Action Plan for Partnerships – The Annual Action Plan for Partnerships (APP) details activities that will be implemented to address the six types of involvement (see below), how those activities are aligned with the school’s overall mission and goals, who is responsible for the activities, and how the impact of the activities will be measured. In terms of goals, the APP includes at least 4 goals: 2 academic, 1 behavioral and 1 school climate goal.
- Types of Partnerships – The NNPS identifies six types of involvement that partnership schools must attend to in order to truly engage their entire community: parenting, school-home communications, volunteering, at-home learning, shared decision making, and coordinated resources and services. Rather than organizing partnership work around the content of what an individual or organization can provide (e.g. tutoring services, parent training, etc.), the NNPS approach focuses on process and forms of relationship when organizing a school’s set of partnerships. This helps establish buy-in, commitment and continuity of partnerships.
- Partnership Evaluations – Using the measures established in the APP, the ATP regularly reviews partnership activities and provides feedback to the individual partners that provide resources/deliver services as well as to the entire school community. NNPS suggests that schools conduct and end-of-year celebration to recognize achievements resulting from partnerships as a means to acknowledge partners and help further publicize partner activities among students and families.
CEI can help you turn your school into a “Partnership School.” Contact us to learn more.