Program for Refining Educational Partnerships


During the 1996-2000 Regional Educational Laboratory contract, SEDL's work in this area featured the development and refinement of a collaborative process for building school-home-community partnerships. Together, school, home, community, and student representatives share responsibility for identifying pressing educational issues and implementing action plans to address them. While these representatives willingly devote time to making changes, they may lack the technical or organizational skills needed to build a team, make plans, and maintain the momentum to complete projects.

Field-based research and development

Working with 23 communities across our five-state region, SEDL staff developed, tested, and refined the process for building Collaborative Action Teams (CATs) focused on improving outcomes for students. SEDL worked closely with facilitators and team members at each site to support their development. Their findings indicated that the majority of these partnerships were sustained for one to four years and planned to continue in the future.

Other findings indicated that CATS need the following to be sustained:

  • School support
  • Time to make improvements for students and families
  • Regularity and stability
  • CAT partners who were representative of the community (Recruiting and maintaining representative membership from the home, school, community, and students required constant attention.)
  • At least one trained, knowledgeable local facilitator to lead meetings, coordinate logistics, and support the implementation of action plans.

SEDL produced a set of materials, titled Creating Collaborative Action Teams: Working Together for Student Success, to support teams in this work. The set includes a description of the five CAT process stages, the steps that a team takes during each stage, and what teams must accomplish to promote student achievement. The toolkit features activities and resources to move the team through each stage of the process, transparency and handout masters for each toolkit activity, and a CD-ROM that contains all the printed material in electronic form. The written materials were translated into Spanish to assist teams whose members are more proficient in Spanish than in English.

Resources and materials

SEDL developed supplementary materials that also address community development issues for rural schools interested in building school-home-community partnerships. These materials include Thriving Together: Connecting Rural School Improvement and Community Development and Benefits2, The Exponential Results of Linking School Improvement and Community Development, a newsletter discussing models, strategies, and other issues related to school improvement and community development.

SEDL also published two reviews of relevant research and development literature. Issues in Collaborative Work: A Review of the Literature focuses on school-home-community partnerships. The second, A Review of the Literature on the Role of Collaboration in Integrating School Improvement and Rural Community Development, reviews relationships between school improvement and community development in rural areas.