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Forming Broad-Based Regional Partnerships for Student Success
Unformatted Document Text:  In contrast, the “self-help strategy” assumes that people in impacted communities can take action to improve their own lives. This view consciously “de-privileges” the perspectives of those who represent institutions of various kinds. The self-help perspective is embodied in much of the action research literature (Stringer, 1999). The third broad strategy rejects the instrumental nature of the “technical assistance” perspective. It begins with a frank assessment of power and the role it plays in impacted communities. The “conflict strategy” is often organized around a normative goal of one kind or another (e.g., social or environmental justice). It assumes that those who control will not share them willingly. It thus avoids cooperative endeavors and views cooperation as a persistent danger (Christenson, 1989, p. 37). With respect to the universities’ understanding of community development, the LASS project initially embodied aspects of both the “technical assistance strategy” and the “self-help strategy.” At the same time, the universities were motivated by the belief that democracy requires society to “elicit the development of powers latent in [its] members” (Boisvert, 1998, p. 56). Indeed, the universities endorsed John Dewey’s conception of democracy as less a set of political institutions and practices than “. . .a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience” (Dewey, 1985, p. 93). To this end the universities quickly focused on the need to engage all participants as equal members of the LASS alliance, and to ensure their equal participation at every level of the project. Contribution: This proposal is being submitted to Conference Strand II Picturing Expanded Alliances. This proposal reports on a significant university-school district alliance that involves a consortium of 4 universities, 10 school districts, the State Department of Education, and the business community in an attempt to significantly influence the student and organizational performance in each of the member school districts. This is the first such alliance that has been created in this geographic area. The key question that this proposal addresses is, how can schools of education build innovative alliances that go beyond the traditional university-school district partnerships. The initiative reported in this proposal does go beyond traditional partnerships, and shares what has been learned in creating this alliance. Relevance: This proposal reports on an initiative that focuses on two primary perspectives: the use of research-based exemplary practices to impact student and organizational performance in 10 school districts, and the use of quantitative evidence to determine progress toward stated goals. Committees, made up of representatives from the school districts and the universities were created to identify the attributes of research-based exemplary practices in literacy and eventually mathematics. The member school districts then used these attributes to choose literacy curriculum and teaching practices that met those attributes. Generic research-based practices were also selected that focused on diagnostic-prescriptive teaching leading to student incremental success. The Alliance also worked with the district administrative teams to facilitate the strategic planning process and to begin the alignment of school improvement plans to the district’s strategic plan. The universities were identified as the alliance members that would lead the research efforts to gather quantitative evidence on the effectiveness of the implemented practices. This proposal will report on both of these perspectives.

Authors: Wigle, Stanley., Rivers, Robert., Westrick, Jan. and Fontaine, Cindy.
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In contrast, the “self-help strategy” assumes that people in impacted communities can
take action to improve their own lives. This view consciously “de-privileges” the
perspectives of those who represent institutions of various kinds. The self-help
perspective is embodied in much of the action research literature (Stringer, 1999).
The third broad strategy rejects the instrumental nature of the “technical assistance”
perspective. It begins with a frank assessment of power and the role it plays in impacted
communities. The “conflict strategy” is often organized around a normative goal of one
kind or another (e.g., social or environmental justice). It assumes that those who control
will not share them willingly. It thus avoids cooperative endeavors and views
cooperation as a persistent danger (Christenson, 1989, p. 37).
With respect to the universities’ understanding of community development, the LASS
project initially embodied aspects of both the “technical assistance strategy” and the
“self-help strategy.” At the same time, the universities were motivated by the belief that
democracy requires society to “elicit the development of powers latent in [its] members”
(Boisvert, 1998, p. 56). Indeed, the universities endorsed John Dewey’s conception of
democracy as less a set of political institutions and practices than “. . .a mode of
associated living, of conjoint communicated experience” (Dewey, 1985, p. 93). To this
end the universities quickly focused on the need to engage all participants as equal
members of the LASS alliance, and to ensure their equal participation at every level of
the project.
Contribution: This proposal is being submitted to Conference Strand II Picturing
Expanded Alliances. This proposal reports on a significant university-school district
alliance that involves a consortium of 4 universities, 10 school districts, the State
Department of Education, and the business community in an attempt to significantly
influence the student and organizational performance in each of the member school
districts. This is the first such alliance that has been created in this geographic area. The
key question that this proposal addresses is, how can schools of education build
innovative alliances that go beyond the traditional university-school district partnerships.
The initiative reported in this proposal does go beyond traditional partnerships, and
shares what has been learned in creating this alliance.
Relevance: This proposal reports on an initiative that focuses on two primary
perspectives: the use of research-based exemplary practices to impact student and
organizational performance in 10 school districts, and the use of quantitative evidence to
determine progress toward stated goals. Committees, made up of representatives from
the school districts and the universities were created to identify the attributes of research-
based exemplary practices in literacy and eventually mathematics. The member school
districts then used these attributes to choose literacy curriculum and teaching practices
that met those attributes. Generic research-based practices were also selected that
focused on diagnostic-prescriptive teaching leading to student incremental success. The
Alliance also worked with the district administrative teams to facilitate the strategic
planning process and to begin the alignment of school improvement plans to the district’s
strategic plan. The universities were identified as the alliance members that would lead
the research efforts to gather quantitative evidence on the effectiveness of the
implemented practices. This proposal will report on both of these perspectives.


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