The DeHavilland Blog

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Coalition leaders speak out on education

In our last major survey (see "Community/School Partnerships: A National Survey" on the DeHavilland Associates resource page), we asked school and district leaders about their practices, outcomes, and interests in the area of community/school partnerships. One key finding was their interest in working with business coalitions, which they ranked as their most desired partner on future initiatives.

Based on this interest, we decided to survey the leaders of business coalitions involved with education to learn about their work with schools and districts. It took some work to build a list of coalitions - there was no such list available - but starting with the directory of organizations on the Business/Education Partnership Forum (see here), and spending a significant amount of time identifying other organizations in the field, we were able to develop a list of more than 500 such coalitions, and set out to solicit their input.

The result is a new survey titled "Coalition Leaders Speak Out on Education", which will soon be available from DeHavilland Associates. We're still finalizing the report, but I wanted to share the key findings as soon as they were available. Key findings include:

  • Workforce preparedness ranked as their top priority in education, followed by graduation rates and mastery of basic skills.
  • While coalitions do tend to work more in urban areas than in suburban or rural ones, accessibility to location is the least important factor when selecting partners. The most imporant criteria when selecting education partners are their willingness to collaborate, their commitment to the project, and their interest in obtaining measurable outcomes.
  • Coalitions spend more than twice as much time working at the high school level than at the elementary, middle, or postsecondary levels.
  • When asked how actively they work in certain areas, coalition leaders indicated equal weight to a broad range of interests related to workforce development, including career awareness, college preparedness/entry, essential skills such as reading and math, STEM education, and vocational education.
  • When asked about the different types of support they offer to education partners, coalitions cited expertise most frequently, with other common areas including providing volunteers and mentors, goods and services, and political support. Direct financial giving ranked last.
  • While business coalitions do manage a number of structured education initiatives, they focus the majority of their efforts on collaboratively building programs tailored to the needs of their partners. Once a project has been launched, they follow through by tracking activity and outcomes.
  • Coalition leaders are predominantly either satisfied or extremely satisfied with both the partnership process and with partnership outcomes.

The complete report will be available in a few days, and of course I'll post a link from the blog. I'll also spend some time diving further into some of these findings in the near future - stay tuned!


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