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Citation:Sanders, M. G. (2001). The role of "community" in comprehensive school, family, and community partnership programs. Elementary School Journal, 102(1), 19-34.

This article examines the role of "community" in school-family-community partnerships. It defines school-community partnerships, discusses their benefits, identifies gaps in current knowledge, and suggests steps needed in research and practice to improve community connections within these partnerships. Analyses show that 70 percent of the schools surveyed reported at least one community partnership activity. The partners and the 817 partnership activities varied widely. Schools in this sample relied heavily (45%, the greatest proportion) on businesses and corporations as their partners, but noticeably few cultural and recreational institutions, faith-based organizations, and national service and volunteer organizations. Therefore, the author suggests that schools may need to broaden their definition of "community" and reach out to these less visible organizations. Another finding is that developing two-way or reciprocal school-community partnership activities seemed to be a key challenge for schools. Over 400 schools in the National Network of Partnership Schools were surveyed, using a year-end questionnaire to identify and categorize the community partners of schools, document the focus of their activities, identify obstacles to the implementation of partnerships and strategies to overcome obstacles, and examine factors that influenced schools' satisfaction with their community partnership activities. The author indicates there have been many studies about the different types of family involvement and their effects on student, family, and school outcomes, and similar research is needed on others. The reader should keep in mind that this study was conducted only in schools that use a specific partnership model (the National Network of Partnership Schools), and results may or may not be generalized to other settings.

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