Improving America’s Schools Together: How District-University Partnerships and Continuous Improvement Can Transform Education is the first definitive text on continuous improvement in school district-university partnerships, covering improvement methods, theory, research, and real cases across the United States with practical improvement tools that can be adapted to any setting. Through an array of in-depth stories, this book demonstrates how improvement science—as a shared method—can help universities, districts, and schools foster leaders and educators and enhance students’ learning and opportunities.
Erin Anderson, Douglas W. Anthony, Cynthia K. Barron, Carole Basile, Michelle M. Beavers, Barnett Berry, Manuelito Biag, Regina Biggs, Anthony S. Bryk, Susan P. Carlile, Charoscar Coleman, Diana Cornejo-Sanchez, Shelby Cosner, Kathleen M. W. Cunningham, Kris DeFilippis, Mark E. Deschaine, Felice Desouza, David Eddy-Spicer, Segun Eubanks, Christina Flesher, Louis M. Gomez, Betsy Hargrove, Brian Harvey, Marni Herrington, Zipporah Hightower, Randy Hitz, David G. Imig, Janice Jackson, Julia Jacobsen, Sandra Lochhead, Peter Martinez, David Mayrowetz, Tania McKey, Kara Miley-Libby, Peter Moyi, Christine M. Neumerski, Margaret Terry Orr, Deborah S. Peterson, Meisha Porter, W. Bradley Roberson, David Rock, Natasha Saunders, Farnoosh Shahrokhi, Claire Silva, Jean Snell, Denise A. Soares, Elizabeth Leisy Stosich, Nicole L. Thompson, Steve Tozer, Samantha Viano, Sam Whalen, Tinkhani Ushe White, Paige Whitlock, Paul Zavitkovsky
About the Editors
Louis M. Gomez works to help educators take a new perspective on design and educational improvement by catalyzing long-term, cooperative initiatives. The work gains its power through highly focused collaboratives called Networked Improvement Communities. He is a Professor of Education (and Information Studies) at the University of California, Los Angeles. Since 2008 he has also served as a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Gomez received a B.A. degree in psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from UC Berkeley.
Manuelito Biag currently serves as the managing director of the Center for Postsecondary Innovation at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. In this role, he leads an international portfolio of projects aimed at increasing students' social and economic mobility. He also serves as senior associate and provides instruction, coaching, and research support in the area of networked improvement science. Prior, he served as senior researcher at the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Biag earned a Ph.D. in education policy from UC Davis.
David Imig holds emeritus status from the Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership program at the University of Maryland at College Park. He served as president and chief executive officer of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) from 1980-2005. He is past chair of the National Policy Board for Educational Administration and the National Society for the Study of Education. He helped to establish the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED), serving as chair of the Board of Directors from 2010-2020. He serves as a senior fellow for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He holds three academic degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an honorary doctorate from Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers in the UK.
Randy Hitz is Dean Emeritus of the College of Education at Portland State University. His higher education administrative experience spans three decades and includes dean positions at Portland State, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Montana State University. He currently serves as a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching where he has been part of the iLEAD project for five years. Hitz served as Chair of the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education and he chaired the Council for Accreditation of Education Professionals (CAEP) Commission as well as participating on CAEP’s Board of Directors. He earned a Ph.D. from Indiana State University.
Steve Tozer is Professor emeritus and past university scholar in educational policy studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where he was the founding director of the UIC Center for Urban Education Leadership. His collaborations with colleagues from UIC and Chicago Public Schools were continuously funded for 18 years by numerous foundations and the US Department of Education. He is the lead author of a textbook, School and Society, Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, 8th Edition (McGraw-Hill, 2020), and lead editor of The Handbook of Research in Social Foundations of Education (Routledge, 2011). Tozer earned his Ph.D. in educational policy studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Introduction: Getting to Mutual–Benefit Partnerships
(Louis M. Gomez and Manuelito Biag)
Navigating the Tangles of Inter–Organizational Work
“It Takes a Village” to Redress Inequities
The Improvement Leadership Education and Development (iLEAD) Network
Social Learning Theory and Culture
Moving Beyond Transactional Relationships
Trading Zones and Boundary Objects
iLEAD’s Developmental Progressions Framework as a Boundary Object
The Desiderata to Sustain Trading Zones
SECTION I: IMPROVEMENT METHODS, EQUITY, AND PROBLEMS OF PRACTICE IN LOCAL CONTEXT
1 Braiding Improvement into the Fabric of District Leadership Preparation and Practice: University of Virginia and Chesterfield County Public Schools
(David Eddy-Spicer, Tinkhani Ushe White, and Michelle Beavers)
University of Virginia
Chesterfield County Public Schools
An Educational Leadership Preparation Partnership Emerges
The “Improvement Sandwich”: Cooperation into Coordination
CCPS Strand: Focus on Programmatic Equity and School Improvement Planning
UVA Strand: Redesigning the M.Ed. Program
Securing the Braid: Coordination into Collaboration
Deepening Coordination Across School Levels and With Central Office in CCPS
Results: Organizational Practice and Partnership
Conclusions and Lessons Learned
CCPS Lessons Learned
UVA Lessons Learned
Partnership Lessons Learned: Co-Development of Leadership Pedagogies
Essential Lessons of Partnership Work
Questions for Discussion
2 A University–School District Collaboration to Improve Equity– and Inquiry–Driven School Leadership: Fordham University and Bronx School Districts 9 and 11
(Margaret Terry Orr, Kris DeFilippis, Meisha Porter and Elizabeth Leisy Stosich)
Challenges, Solutions, and Evidence
Advanced Leadership Preparation
3 Moving a Partnership from Itinerant to Integral: Using Improvement Science as a Catalyst for Change in Leadership Preparation & Induction: George Mason University and Fairfax County Public Schools
(Samantha Viano, Farnoosh Shahrokhi, Regina Biggs, Natasha Saunders, Claire Silva, and Paige Whitlock)
EDLE Program at GMU
FCPS and GMU Partnering Prior to iLEAD
Joining Together as iLEAD Partners
Stagnant Progress on School Improvement
Mismatch Between EDLE Leadership Preparation and FCPS Practice
Improvement Science as Our Catalyzing Agent to Come Together
Making Improvement Science EDLE’s Signature Pedagogy
EDLE Faculty’s Introduction to Improvement Science
Commitment to Improvement Science through Curriculum Development
Diverse Approaches to Supporting the Use of Improvement Science in FCPS
Professional Development Opportunities
School–Based Leadership Induction
Title I Comprehensive Needs Assessment
Our Partnership Driven Initiative: Piloting an Improvement Science Approach to School Improvement
Phase 1: Cultivating Cultures of Continuous Improvement, 2019–20 School Year
Phase 2: Redressing Inequities, 2020–21 School Year
Phase 3: Spreading What Works, 2021–22 School Year
Showcasing Our Joint Efforts
Synergy between Leadership Preparation and School Improvement
Starting with a Foundational Relationship to Build upon
Garner Immediate Excitement about Improvement Science
Leverage Eagerness and Capacity to Make Time for Collaboration
Attending to the Mission of our Partnership Work
4 Using Improvement Science Principles for New–Teacher Support: High Tech High and High Tech High Graduate School of Education
(Julia Jacobsen and Diana Cornejo-Sanchez)
High Tech High & the High Tech High Graduate School of Education
Induction as a Lever for Teacher Retention
Experimenting with Improvement in Teacher Induction
Challenge #1: Entry Planning that Incorporates Continuous Improvement
Challenge #2: Operating in a One–Year Time Frame
Challenge #3: Developing the Capacity of Improvement Coaches
CI Can Be an Effective Framework for Adaptive Learning
The Importance of Improvement Science in our own Program Processes
Developing New Organizational Capacity for Continuous Improvement
How Might Improvement Processes Foster Connection and Belonging?
How Can Both the Process and the Outcome of Improvement Efforts Support Equity?
How Can We Develop Sustainable Improvement Efforts?
How Can Improvement Science Help Organizations Grow Toward a Common Mission and Develop Concrete Understandings?
SECTION II: A NEW KIND OF PARTNERSHIP: CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT AS AN ANIMATING FORCE
5 From a Transactional Relationship to a Transformational Partnership: University of Maryland College Park and Prince George’s County Public Schools
(Primary authors: Segun Eubanks and Jean Snell; Additional contributors: Doug Anthony, Charoscar Coleman, Felice Desouza, Kara Miley-Libby, and Christine M. Neumerski)
Not Your Father’s MOU
The Back Story: People Building Trust, Institutions Leading Change
A Shared Problem of Practice: Putting the “Improvement” in the School Improvement Process
Leveraging the New Strategic Plan
Improvement Science as a Shared Methodology and “Solution”
Looking Forward to Future Work: The Launch of 2 Partnership Networked Improvement Communities
Showing Evidence of Partnership Impact
Key Learning #1: Building Strong Relationships is the Starting Point
Key Learning #2: Focus on Problems of Practice and Stay Prepared for Change
You’re Not Really Married if You Don’t Have the Paper
Adapt, Don’t Abandon
Just Do Something
6 Redesigning School Staffing Models through Team–Based Residencies: Arizona State University and Avondale Elementary School District
(Betsy Hargrove, Christina Flesher, Nicole L. Thompson and Carole Basile)
The Next Education Workforce: A Growing Idea
Context: MLFTC and AESD Partnership
Challenges, Solutions, and Evidence–Based Teacher Preparation
Challenges for AESD
Changes and Vision at MLFTC
A Renewed Partnership
Serendipity and Early Models
Improvement Science: Planning, Doing, Studying Acting
Invested and Involved Leadership
Systems and Structures
Challenges of Teams
Developmental Progressions and Growth in Collaboration
Characteristics of Successful Teams
Afterword: Beyond Teacher Preparation
7 District-University Partnerships for Continuous Improvement: How Can UM Help?: University of Mississippi and Oxford School District
(Denise A. Soares, Mark E. Deschaine, W. Bradley Roberson, David Rock, Marni Harrington and Brian Harvey)
Context: Beginning the Partnership Work
The Achievement Gap Project
Chronic Absenteeism PDSA Cycle
Spread and Scale Progress
OSD Improvement Science Problems of Practice
Passion Professional Development PDSA Cycle
Youth Truth Survey PDSA Cycle
UM–SOE Improvement Science Problems of Practice
Graduate Studies Office PDSA Cycle
UM–SOE Dean’s Office Staff PDSA Cycle
The “How” of Partnerships (Partnership Mechanisms)
Expectations, Sustainability, Norms & Routines
Vision for the Future
8 Equity–Focused Improvement Science: Portland State University and Portland Public Schools
(Susan P. Carlile, Deborah S. Peterson (co-first authors) and Tania McKey)
Professor of Practice Susan Carlile
Associate Professor Emerita Dr. Deborah S. Peterson
Assistant Professor and Senior Director of Humanities Dr. Tania McKey
Context of the PSU–PPS Partnership
Portland State University
Portland Public Schools
Chronology of Improvement Science Efforts
Networked Improvement Communities
Newberg School District (NSD)
Changes in the Partnership with the Newberg School District
The New District Partnership: Portland Public Schools
Challenges and Solutions
Tools to Identify Next Steps
Progress (Strengths) at the Partnership Level
Progress (Strengths) at PPS
Progress (Strengths) at the PSU Level
Areas of Focus (Challenges) at the Partnership Level
Areas of Focus (Challenges) in PPS
Area of Focus (Challenge) in PSU
Theory of Improvement
Redesign PPS Practices for Principal Support
Hire Scholarly Practitioners as Principal Preparation Cohort Leaders
PPS Hires PSU Principal Licensure Completers
SECTION III: PARTNERSHIPS AIN’T EASY: LEARNING FROM SHORT–TERM EFFORTS AND LONG–TERM SUSTAINABILITY
9 Shared Goals, Methods, and Learning: Partnering for Equity-focused, Systems-level Improvement: University of Denver and Denver Public Schools
(Erin Anderson and Sandra Lochhead)
Sustainable Improvement in the District
Shared Goals: Embedded Process Over External Program
Shared Methodology: The Design Improvement for Equity (DI4E) Model
Shared Learning: Shared Research Agenda in a Research–Practice Partnership
Summary of Impact
Lesson 1: Be Clear About your “Why”—Your North Star Guides the Way
Lesson 2: Create a Shared Theory of Improvement for your Partnership Work and Use It as a Map to Reach your Destination
Lesson 3: Interdependence Was Essential to the Partnership and to Increasing Equity in the System
Lesson 4: Be Disciplined about a Shared Learning Agenda or Research Plan
Lesson 5: Despite Shared Values, Norms, and Goals, There Are Still Organizational Values and Conditions That Will Limit Systems Change
10 Organizational Changes’ Impacts on University-District Partnership Development: University of South Carolina and K-12 School District in South Carolina
(Kathleen M.W. Cunningham, Peter Moyi, and Barnett Berry)
University of South Carolina College of Education
The Partnership Between CoE/EDLP and MCSD
Developing and Sustaining a District-University Partnership
Two Partnership Frameworks: iLEAD’s Developmental Progressions and the Stage Model
Organizational Progress: Partnership
Organizational Progress: USC (i.e., CoE and EDLP)
Challenge 1: Multiple, Evolving Goals
Challenge 2: Logistics (Distance, Funding, Time–Competing Priorities)
Challenge 3: Personnel and Leadership Transitions
Challenge 4: COVID-19 Pandemic
Consideration 1: Clearly Defined Goals and Expectations
Consideration 2: Core Partnership Team with Consistent Membership, Leadership, and Active Commitment
Consideration 3: Lean on a Continuous Improvement Mindset to Reflect and Learn
11Preparing Principals for Urban Schools: The Challenge of Equitable Outcomes at Scale: University of Illinois Chicago and Chicago Public Schools
(Steve Tozer, Peter Martinez, Cynthia K. Barron, Shelby Cosner, Zipporah Hightower, Janice Jackson, David Mayrowetz, Sam Whalen, and Paul Zavitkovsky)
Partnership Context: Chicago School Reform and UIC’s “Urban Mission”
Chicago School Reform and State Legislation
The Principal Preparation Program Design and Re-design: 11 Key Components
Impact of Program Design and Re-design
“We Want to Be as Good as People Think We Are”
Using the Developmental Progressions to Tell the CPS/UIC Partnership Story
From MOU to Vendor Contract
A Missing Objective?
Preparation of CPS Principal Supervisors (Network Chiefs) and Central Office Personnel
A Next Edge of Growth
Developing Capacity as a District Partner: the UIC EdD Program
Elaborations and Qualifications on the IHE Narrative
Vision, Systems, and Above All, People
Our First Targeted Program Hire
Building the Team
Leadership Coaches as Boundary Spanners
Creating “Boundary Objects”
Next Edges of Growth
Need for New Resources
How Did the District Sustain Its Share of the Partnership for 20 Years across Nine CEOs?
3. Leadership Development: Vision, Systems, and People
4. Continuous Improvement
Conclusion:Evolving Tethers that Bind School District to University
Tightly Tethered Mutuality
Attending to the How of Partnerships
The Role of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Building a Strong Field: Infrastructure that Recasts Partnerships
Creating Social Infrastructure for Collective Action
Looking Forward: The Sustainability of Mutually Beneficial Partnerships for Leadership and Continuous Improvement
About the Contributors
This volume brings together a dream author team—a mix of scholars and scholarly professionals with complementary research and practice-based expertise who have figured out how to work productively together in research-practice partnerships. Their contributions provide inspiration and concrete guidance for educational leaders in schools, districts, and institutions of higher education. The rich cases of higher education–school district partnership reveal innovative structures and collaborative practices that enable joint work to build capacity for continuous improvement in service of creating more effective and equitable systems. For all these reasons and more, this book is on the cutting edge of the continuous improvement movement in education and is a must-read for educators seeking to transform U.S. education and create equitable learning opportunities for students.
Leaders in public and higher education are facing unprecedented calls to advance quality and equity in students’ educational opportunities and outcomes. This volume provides remarkable perspective on the power of districts and universities learning together—in partnerships and in community—to do more, for more students, than either could possibly do on their own. It serves as both a call and a blueprint for action, with the contributing authors inviting district and university leaders to follow in their footsteps to forge institutional change.
What excites me about this edited volume is that it provides illustrations of partnerships that are making an impact in education! It exists as a useful tool for individuals seeking images of the possible in co-designing and co-implementing partnerships that work. And, ultimately, it demonstrates the power of collaboration—that the future of education is through partnership, by tackling persistent problems of practice together. It shows that schools and universities are truly better together.
These cases provide wonderful, concrete examples of how district-university partnerships for continuous improvement can benefit both school districts and schools of education. Anyone interested in engaging in such partnerships should read this book, especially to identify the benefits, but also to get a sense of the challenges such partnerships face.
Gomez, Biag, Imig, Tozer, and Hitz bring together powerful examples of how—through thoughtful and deliberate continuous improvement processes—partnerships can be formed to address complex problems of practice in our schools. This text will quickly become a go-to guide for those seeking to engage in equity-focused and contextually relevant collaborations designed to address public school challenges and to develop sustainable and impactful solutions.
This book contains cases of district-university partnerships anchored in continuous improvement tools and methods. The book shows how those partnerships formed, catalyzed, integrated efforts, and facilitated organizational change. The multi-case approach is invaluable as a teaching resource because it enables learning conversations and coaching practice.
This text is full of pragmatic and versatile lessons on continuous improvement in education. I'm not a believer in 'one size fits all' methodologies, so improvement science cannot be a panacea to all education research initiatives. But where evaluation and other important traditional social science research methods stop short of actually fixing problems, improvement science can indeed transform practice through innovation, collaboration, and learning from data. The book covers a variety of common and unique education problems as well as how the continuous-improvement paradigm can be applied in context. Just as healthcare and other vital human service fields have embraced it, education must as well.
The idea that school district-university partnerships for educator preparation should be mutually-beneficial is almost universally acknowledged, but often poorly articulated by practitioners when asked to provide evidence of such a partnership. If you’ve wondered what 'mutually beneficial and co-constructed partnerships' look like in practice and how they can be authentic and sustainable over time, this book is for you. With one fell swoop, it silences those resistant to change who wield the argument that 'it can't happen here' as their justification for not innovating.
Blending the expertise of researchers and practitioners with the use of case studies, this book will be valuable for universities and school districts who want to deepen their partnership work and to see what this work looks like ‘in real life.’
This volume brings together a number of the most important applied thinkers and doers about complex education partnerships active today. The editors are seasoned education researchers who also share an extensive background with using improvement science. Their necessary communication to co-create this volume has proven to be highly generative with each pushing the next to new insights shared and needed detail added, to the benefit of the reader.
This text provides examples of how IHEs can move to research partnerships instead of coming in and doing research on a particular problem and having the school’s main function be as a participant. I highly recommend this text for school districts and institutions of higher education that want to form a partnership through the lens of improvement science. All IHEs should be training their candidates in school district administration on improvement science and how forming these partnerships not only improve outcomes for students in schools but also create equitable leaders that will be transforming schools and communities in which they are employed.
This important text provides a multifaceted examination and discussion of partnerships between PK–12 school districts and universities using real life examples from existing impactful partnerships across the US. The stories and lessons shared in each chapter can serve as a blueprint for others interested in forming similar partnerships with the aim of transforming their surrounding PK–12 educational community.
University-district partnerships have been hot topics for many years now. Many funding organizations look for this kind of partnership to ensure that research is done with and for Local Education Agencies (LEAs), versus being done on them. Improving America's Schools Together supports those who want to build partnership with universities or LEAs with some 'how to' information. Partnerships are not easy. However, this book demonstrates how improvement science is a rigorous but user-friendly way to get all stakeholders on the same page to do research in the name of making schools better. It showcases the tools of improvement, one of which is the charter—a formal, co-constructed document that establishes the partnership. Such tools offer the reader an understanding of what building a partnership looks like and what is needed to sustain it in different contexts with different foci. Each case is co-written by a university faculty member and educational practitioner, which supports the notion of university-district partnerships and decolonizes who owns and produces knowledge. This book is a useful contribution to practitioners—both K–12 and university—as they consider venturing into similar work.
This book is a two for one—it discusses improving the content of the leadership development programs as well as the outcomes of the school-university partnerships required to make leadership development effective. What’s unique about this book is the discussion of improving leadership development and partnership using improvement science methods. The authors have actively used the methods discussed and have engaged in the partnerships themselves. I especially appreciate their documentation of iLEAD, an important effort to strengthening university-school district partnerships focused on leadership development. I highly recommend this book for people working in on improvement in the field of education from both practice and research roles and organizations.
This book captures multiple stories of how institutions of higher education can come alongside school districts to tackle complex problems of practice. Each case provides insight into how diverse actors and partners negotiate and engage in the trading zones and boundaries of policies, practices, programs, and processes to reimagine how we continuously improve schools but how we prepare educators and educational leaders to lead and work together.
Here’s a must-read volume for those building new disruptive relationships between IHEs and LEAs. Case studies tell examples of intentional, sustainable partnerships. They are held together through the mutual use of and belief in improvement science and continuous improvement; a leadership network; and efforts to develop mutualism through boundary spanners and braiders. Don’t miss the excellent introduction by Tony Bryk and the conclusion by Louis Gomez.
This text is compelling in that it presents both varied, well-documented examples of effective, enduring partnerships and also provides a concise and clear conceptual framework for those cases. Readers seeking to evaluate or create similar inter-institutional partnerships have the proof of concept and the conceptual guidance needed to do so. At the same time—and this is crucial—the framework does not float above the particulars, but rather it starts from the premise that context matters as the foundation for successful joint work. It is both an ideal leadership and policy course text and a very practical guide for those involved in the work of partnerships.
Visit the companion website for supplementary resources and chapter appendices: