It Takes a Community

Jess TonnGood things are happening in Cincinnati. Despite high levels of poverty, test scores are going up, more kids are showing up for kindergarten ready to learn, and graduation rates are on the rise.

How are they doing it? “Shared accountability”—the idea that all community groups, from schools and colleges to businesses and government agencies, share responsibility for improving student outcomes—argues a new report by Education Sector.

Striving for Student Success: A Model of Shared AccountabilitySpecifically, the authors identify four elements that lead to Cincinnati’s success in coordinating the efforts of more than 300 different community entities (known as the Strive Partnership of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky):

  • Agreeing on a common vision for improving student success
  • Setting specific goals and benchmarks for each community group
  • Collecting, analyzing, and sharing data across sectors (a complicated topic that we discussed with Education Sector’s Bill Tucker in a Twitter chat last year)
  • Establishing strong leadership at the city level, supported by an intermediary organization (always happy to see a shout-out to the intermediaries of the world!)

We in the world of school-community partnerships see the power of sharing accountability every day—whether it’s in our summer planning institutes with school and community leaders, our ongoing professional development for schools and their community partners, or our test scores at the end of the year. “Schools can’t do it alone,” we often say about bringing community educators into schools to expand the school day, and consider shared responsibility one of the core elements of our ExpandED Schools.

School reform is only successful if the whole community stands behind it. Thanks, Education Sector and Cincinnati, for showing us what it takes to get there.