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Forming Broad-Based Regional Partnerships for Student Success
Unformatted Document Text:  Section I: Content Statement of the Issue: The Lakeshore Alliance for Student Success (LASS) is a partnership of 10 school districts, and the schools of education at four regional universities. The purpose of the LASS project is to, over a period of 5 years, implement research-based strategies in order to improve student and organizational performance in each of the member school districts. Many of the member school districts struggle with improving their educational outcomes. Specifically, many of these districts report that relatively high percentages of their students score below the state average on the state’s standardized performance test. In addition, many of these districts report that their average composite SAT scores are also below the state average. Compounding the issue of educational outcomes is the fact that many of the member school districts are located in communities that are faced with serious challenges. Among such challenges are, relatively high percentages of adult citizens who lack a high school diploma, relatively low percentages of adult literacy rates, and relatively high percentages of families living in poverty. The goal of LASS is to ensure that 95% of all students in all member school districts achieve passing scores on the language arts and math sections of the state’s standardized performance test by the school year 2012-2013. Both the member school districts and the schools of education at the regional universities that provide them with new teachers recognized it would be necessary to form a broad and innovative alliance to have any realistic hope of achieving significant and lasting progress in P-12 student achievement. It was also recognized that the strategies used to produce higher achievement would have to be institutionalized so that the progress made would not disappear at the end of the 5-year period of financial support. This presentation will address how the alliance was formed, the characteristics of its university and school partners, as well as the successes that were achieved and the challenges that had to be faced and overcome. The purpose of this presentation is to highlight the 1) issues faced by both the universities and the school districts as the Alliance was being formed and 2) the successes and failures in the first year. Literature Review: Based on an analysis of over 300 articles pertaining to community development, James Christenson (1989) has identified three “themes,” or strategies, all of which aspire to the “betterment of people” who live in impacted communities. Each entails certain assumptions about the nature of power, the appropriate role of change agents, and the efficacy of the other alternatives. The first strategy, “technical assistance,” revolves around institutions. In this view, a change agent’s contribution is circumscribed, limited to advice, counsel, and technical assistance that might be provided to a representative of an established institution that controls a critical resource of one kind or another. This perspective has been widely criticized as undemocratic and instrumental (Christenson, 1989, p. 35; Forester, 1993).

Authors: Wigle, Stanley., Rivers, Robert., Westrick, Jan. and Fontaine, Cindy.
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Section I: Content

Statement of the Issue:
The Lakeshore Alliance for Student Success (LASS) is a
partnership of 10 school districts, and the schools of education at four regional
universities. The purpose of the LASS project is to, over a period of 5 years, implement
research-based strategies in order to improve student and organizational performance in
each of the member school districts.
Many of the member school districts struggle with improving their educational outcomes.
Specifically, many of these districts report that relatively high percentages of their
students score below the state average on the state’s standardized performance test. In
addition, many of these districts report that their average composite SAT scores are also
below the state average.
Compounding the issue of educational outcomes is the fact that many of the member
school districts are located in communities that are faced with serious challenges.
Among such challenges are, relatively high percentages of adult citizens who lack a high
school diploma, relatively low percentages of adult literacy rates, and relatively high
percentages of families living in poverty.
The goal of LASS is to ensure that 95% of all students in all member school districts
achieve passing scores on the language arts and math sections of the state’s standardized
performance test by the school year 2012-2013. Both the member school districts and the
schools of education at the regional universities that provide them with new teachers
recognized it would be necessary to form a broad and innovative alliance to have any
realistic hope of achieving significant and lasting progress in P-12 student achievement.
It was also recognized that the strategies used to produce higher achievement would have
to be institutionalized so that the progress made would not disappear at the end of the 5-
year period of financial support.
This presentation will address how the alliance was formed, the characteristics of its
university and school partners, as well as the successes that were achieved and the
challenges that had to be faced and overcome. The purpose of this presentation is to
highlight the 1) issues faced by both the universities and the school districts as the
Alliance was being formed and 2) the successes and failures in the first year.
Literature Review: Based on an analysis of over 300 articles pertaining to community
development, James Christenson (1989) has identified three “themes,” or strategies, all of
which aspire to the “betterment of people” who live in impacted communities. Each
entails certain assumptions about the nature of power, the appropriate role of change
agents, and the efficacy of the other alternatives.
The first strategy, “technical assistance,” revolves around institutions. In this view, a
change agent’s contribution is circumscribed, limited to advice, counsel, and technical
assistance that might be provided to a representative of an established institution that
controls a critical resource of one kind or another. This perspective has been widely
criticized as undemocratic and instrumental (Christenson, 1989, p. 35; Forester, 1993).


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