Partnership Zone in Practice: What Could This Mean For You? Part Five
Recently, Secretary Lowery designated four schools as members of Delaware’s statewide Partnership Zone Initiative, an ambitious effort to transform the academic outcomes of students at our persistently low-performing schools. Secretary Lowery chose each of the four campuses based upon regulations outlined in Delaware’s Education Administrative Code. Once chosen for participation, each school is required to engage in a 90-day process in which they chose a school turnaround model and develop plans to implement aggressive reforms, such as alternative curricular models and job-embedded professional development.
One component outlined in regulations that has the potential to position schools as the focal point within neighborhoods is community engagement. Currently, schools and districts are required to conduct limited, often superficial efforts to engage stakeholders (such has having parent representation on school improvement committees), and they must dedicate Title I or other resources to do so. However, through the Partnership Zone Initiative, persistently low-performing schools will be given resources and flexibility to design and implement programs that involve all stakeholders in their turnaround efforts.
Regulations state that Partnership Zone schools must “extend…community-oriented supports…and mechanisms for family and community engagement.” In practice, that could mean the following:
· Creating a parent resource center at the school and staffing it with a family liaison;
· Offering instructional opportunities to help parents support their children, such as “family math nights” or worksheets with tips;
· Implementing tutoring or mentoring programs for struggling students;
· Receiving assistance on operational tasks, such as budgeting, in order to position principals as instructional leaders.
Critics continually highlight that student learning is hampered by lack of parental involvement at home. We hope that all Partnership Zone Schools harness this unique opportunity—and these financial resources– and begin thinking about building a different kind of school – one that incorporates all stakeholders while holding themselves accountable for results.