HOW TO SCALE UP COMMUNITY SCHOOLS EFFECTIVELY: A 6-STAGE STRATEGY
Drawing on the experience of many community schools initiatives over nearly two decades, Part Three outlines a process to create an initiative with the wide-ranging capacities needed to create a scaled-up system of community schools. It introduces a 6-stage spiraling process for moving toward a scaled-up system (see Figure 6).
Rather than providing a rigid formula or lockstep set of requirements, the Scale-Up Spiral helps school systems and communities at many different starting points begin building collaborative leadership and functional capacity—while staying focused on long-term results.
Figure 6: A Process for Building a 6-Stage Scaled-Up System
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Each stage of the spiral outlines a set of milestones that, according to experience, community schools partners will likely need to achieve in order to build a scaled-up system. The sequence can help community leaders see at what stage they are initiating the process and determine what they must do to keep moving forward.
In broad terms, partners come together to build a shared vision, develop a plan, take action, and then revise, improve, expand, and sustain their efforts. This approach is familiar to people who have already worked to develop a single community school as well as to those organizing a number of community schools within a school district or across several districts serving a local jurisdiction.
The spiral acknowledges what community schools leaders know well; that is, systems change is not linear. School and partner efforts move back and forth across stages and milestones as circumstances dictate, revisiting earlier stages while moving forward. The spiral also moves upward rather than just in a circle. The upward movement suggests that community schools are always improving their performance, learning from experience, and attaining better outcomes for children and youth—not just doing the same thing over and over.
The "big picture" purpose of upward movement is, of course, to create a scaled-up system characterized by shared ownership, spread, depth, and sustainability—with the capacity to improve results for large numbers of children, families, schools, and communities.
Here is an outline of each stage:
- An Overview lists major milestones, summarizes the characteristics of the stage, and suggests how that stage relates to building a more effective system.
- More on Milestones offers general guidance for approaching each milestone. Rather than providing step-by-step instructions that might suit some communities but not others, it recognizes that every community’s political, economic, and social context is unique.
- How You Know If You Are Making Progress outlines benchmarks to help leaders at the community and school-site levels as well as intermediary entities track their capacity across key functions.
- Pitfalls call attention to common missteps that can derail an initiative.
- Stories from the Field provide some of the experiences, challenges, and solutions on which the stages are based. You can see the stories by selecting this symbol:
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your stories by selecting this symbol and sending them to the Coalition:
If you have questions about any stage or milestone, ask the field
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