A Practical Guide to Building Effective School-Based Partnerships

Posted by William Penn Foundation on October 24, 2016

Partnering for Student Success: A Practical Guide to Building Effective School-Based Partnerships

Schools and districts have long partnered with external organizations to deliver programming to students, both during and outside of the traditional school day. These school-based partnerships expose students to more diverse learning opportunities and community resources, offer continuity in services across multiple years, and have the potential to improve student social and academic outcomes. For schools, partnerships offer external reinforcement of skills taught in classrooms, an improved school culture and reputation, and added resources and staff support. Partnerships also can increase parental engagement at a school, which can promote student success as measured by grades, attendance, attitudes toward school, motivation, and graduation rates. Moreover, school-based partnerships benefit the partner organization; partnerships allow organizations to reach students in need of support services; give partners access to school resources, including facilities, student data, and curriculum; and have the potential to improve its program quality and staff engagement.

Partnerships may vary in duration, intensity, focus, and level of maturity. Some organizations act as service providers to schools through contractual relationships, while others form loosely defined, short-term collaborations with schools. Other partnerships have a longer-term commitment with clear goals and shared responsibilities designed to yield mutually beneficial outcomes for both the school and partner(s). Some partners conduct their programs and activities during out-of-school time hours (before or after school, for example), while others require access to teachers and students during the school day. Regardless of partnership type, there are systems and processes that districts, schools, and partner organizations can adopt to establish, support, and manage partnerships in ways that maximize their impact on student success.


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