California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II
The California Department of Education (CDE) has played a strong leadership role in developing partnership programs. For three years in a row (2004-06), the CDE received the Partnership State Award from the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) (Outside Source) at Johns Hopkins University. The NNPS cited the CDE for excellent leadership in developing family, school, and community partnership programs designed to help students succeed in school. The NNPS award committee commended the CDE’s attention to helping schools form partnerships as a part of the Single Plan for Student Achievement. In 2001, California’s legislature enacted a statute requiring schools to develop a Single Plan for Student Achievement to improve the academic performance of all students to the level of proficiency and to raise the schools’ Academic Performance Index (API).
Partnerships were also important in the original Taking Center Stage.
Middle grades students, their parents, and their teachers are caught up in the daily challenges of young adolescence. Quicksilver emotions, adolescent perceptions, and behavior that tests the boundaries can be the breeding ground for misunderstanding . . . Keeping middle grades parents, students, and the community informed and involved is vital. Regular communications to the home, opportunities for parents to visit the school and participate, and public recognition of the achievements of young adolescents foster a positive climate in which standards-based education thrives.1
Partnerships recognize that education involves far more than the seven or eight hours a day that students spend in school. Family, business, community, and education partners help to provide multiple layers of support and reinforcement so that every student has a chance to succeed despite all the difficulties of hormonal changes, shifting relationships, and the increased rigor of the middle grades
The Daniels Fund for School Business Partnerships (a nonprofit foundation) has conducted research on why some school partnerships are more effective than others. The report identified seven strategies for successful partnerships:
Kastner Intermediate School, Clovis Unified School District, a 2008 Schools to Watch™-Taking Center Stage
The teachers and staff at Kastner have forged partnerships with several stores and restaurants in the adjacent shopping center. Teachers are welcome to take students to any of the local restaurants to reward students for academic or athletic success. Many of the local stores donate items for school events, including events to celebrate staff teamwork and morale. Local organizations have donated to the school’s performing arts programs and to scholarship programs for students.
Kastner has an active parent community that participates in school committees including the Parent-Teacher Council, the School Site Council, and the School Assessment and Review Team. The Parent Club puts on numerous events for the students and staff to celebrate teamwork, spirit, and achievement. Parents are encouraged to stay “in the loop” about their students’ learning via the district’s Parent Connect Web site where they can view grades, attendance, and service opportunities.
The Kastner population includes 1,200 students in seventh and eighth grade. The demographic profile is 52 percent white, 23 percent Hispanic, 13 percent Asian, 5 percent African American, 3 percent other, and 1 percent Native American/Alaskan.
The Schools to Watch™-Taking Center Stage (Middle School Criteria) School Self-Study Rating Rubric says that high-performing middle schools “include families and community members in setting and supporting the school’s trajectory toward high performance. The administrators and teachers inform families and community members about the school’s goals for student success and the students’ responsibility for meeting those goals. The administrators and teachers engage all stakeholders in ongoing and reflective conversation, consensus building, and decision making about governance to promote school improvement.”
Recommendation 12—Partnerships, TCSII
Parental, Family, and Adults-Who-Care Involvement
1Taking Center Stage. Sacramento: California Department of Education, 2001, p. 25.
2“Seven Strategies for Success” (Outside Source), Denver, Colo.: The Daniels Fund.
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California Department of Education
1430 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814