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Understanding Successful School-Based Partnerships


  • Schools and districts have long had partnerships with external organizations
  • Abt developed a guide that explains which partnership practices work.
  • The guide is now in use.
The Challenge

Schools and districts have long partnered with external organizations to deliver programming to students, both during and outside of the traditional school day. These school-based partnerships expose students to more diverse learning opportunities and community resources, offer continuity in services over multiple years, and have the potential to improve student social and academic outcomes. For schools, partnerships offer external reinforcement of skills taught in classrooms, an improved school culture and reputation, and added resources and staff support. 

The Approach

Abt researchers developed a comprehensive, multi-modal toolkit, called Partnering for Student Success: A Practical Guide to Building Effective School-Based Partnerships. Abt developed the toolkit in response to results of a study of partnership coordination efforts in Philadelphia. The study documented principal, partner, partnership coordinator, and school district perceptions of the successes and challenges of two partnership coordination models. The research findings suggested that there are several systems, processes, and tools that can support effective management of school-based partnerships. 

The Results

The guide is now in use. 

The final report: “Successful School-Based Partnerships: What Does It Take?” This describes the essential functions of partnership coordination, the skills coordinators use to manage and maintain school-partner relationships, and what resources and supports coordinators need to be effective. It also includes eight case studies that illuminate how the coordination functions were performed in collaboration with other stakeholders involved in the partnerships.

The toolkit: “Partnering for Student Success: A Practical Guide to Building Effective School-Based Partnerships” is designed to support district staff, school leaders, partnership coordinators, teachers and school staff, and partnering organizations in their efforts to strengthen partnerships.

The guide includes:

  • An overview of the elements of successful school-based partnerships;
  • Roles and responsibilities for these various stakeholder groups;
  • Sample discussion questions to guide conversations between stakeholders; and
  • Tools and templates that can be adapted to help develop and maintain effective school-based partnerships locally.

View a presentation at the National Service Training Conference.