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Stage 5: Milestone 1

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Los Angeles, CA
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Milestone #1: Align Principles, Practice, and Policies

Some things to think about:

Site leaders—including principals, site coordinators, and site teams composed of school and partner agency staff, families, community members, and students—need flexibility to identify and meet local priorities. Community leadership groups and intermediaries should seek to unleash the problem-solving capacity of students, parents, educators, and community partners at individual schools. Yet, most sites will need support to align their work with the initiative’s vision and desired results.

Encourage local sites to adapt the initiative’s desired results.
Every site should establish its own results and indicators that are linked to the initiative’s system-wide results; in fact, site-specific results and indicators may be an integral part of the school improvement plan. Not every site will have the need or capacity to address simultaneously all the results and indicators specified in the initiative’s results-based framework (Stage 3). In any event, sites’ selection of their own list of urgent results and indicators will help focus their work and engender a deeper commitment to it. Site teams should frame the types of activities likely to move them forward. Their reliance on an activities framework will enable them to select effective community partners and use new grant resources as effectively as possible. In addition, the results-based framework will help sites identify the data required to demonstrate and measure progress. Data might take the form of test scores, grade 3 reading levels, attendance rates, and health indices and could include surveys, pre-post-assessments, student grades, and participant records.

Intermediary staff may assist with development of the site-level results framework by:

  • Providing initial guidance for site leaders not previously involved in crafting the community-wide framework
  • Creating opportunities for sites to consult with other sites involved in developing or adapting their own frameworks
  • Developing interagency agreements to ensure that the activities of community partners are consistent with a site’s result-based framework and aligned with district goals
  • Negotiating data-sharing agreements with partners and the release of information with families
  • Reviewing contractual agreements with partners on a regular basis

Enable effective site-level management. Professional development and technical assistance targeted to principals and coordinators is essential to ensuring ongoing linkages between school families and the community, along with connections with their peers. Research and experience strongly suggest that community schools perform best with an on-site, full-time coordinator.

Ensure alignment between the initiative and school sites. School sites need a central source of information and guidance as well as a way to communicate progress and resolve problems. Regular communication between and among site coordinators and intermediary staff can help identify and distinguish between implementation issues that need technical assistance and issues that require a policy response from community leaders. Intermediary staff can be especially helpful in ensuring a timely two-way flow of information, particularly in Stage 6 as field experience increases and evaluation data are collected. As the number of school sites grows, some localities assign a "point person" within the intermediary to link sites across the district to community-wide support and to ensure that leaders attend to policy-relevant information. Much more than a mere conduit, point people are positioned to spot early weaknesses in implementation and identify common cross-site issues.

Set the stage for success. As implementation unfolds, schools and community partners must learn how to share space, personnel, authority, and accountability. The following suggestions might be useful:

  • Invite the entire school (families and their students) to learn about community schools and to be a part of the school’s role in a scaled-up community schools initiative.
  • Create opportunities for conversations with staff whose routine may be affected by new activities. The conversations should draw in support personnel such as custodians, food service workers, and bus drivers as well as professional staff and demonstrate that everyone plays an important role in community schools.
  • Open up planning for the results-based framework to the entire school. Post updates on the planning process and acknowledge participation through whatever communication channel is most appropriate.
  • Work with partner staff to understand school rules and to help school staff tap community partners’ expertise.
  • Clarify site coordinators’ responsibilities and lines of authority.
  • Ensure that other school staff understand the coordinator’s role and affiliation so that differences in hours and reporting requirements do not become issues.



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