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Citation:Merchant, B. (1996). A university, business foundation, and school working together. In P. A. Cordiero (Ed.), Boundary crossings: Educational partnerships and school leadership (pp. 85-98). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

This case study describes the efforts of three schools, a university, and a business foundation to establish a model of collaborative site-based management for the purpose of improving student achievement. The author discusses the background for the collaborative, the study design, administrative themes, benefits of participation, and administrative leadership and design team concerns and recommendations. Findings from interviews with principals indicated that their leadership roles and relationships with teachers and foundation representatives were challenged throughout the implementation of the collaborative. Getting acquainted with all parties and building trust required time and resources from administrators. Principals also highlighted the need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the members of the collaborative as a top priority. All three principals faced the issue of representing a clear and consistent model of shared leadership to school staff members who were not used to such a model. They expressed the belief that change happened as teachers, parents, and community members participated in building leadership teams, but also said the team structure complicated and increased their workload. The researcher found that benefits of the collaborative included the availability of additional financial resources to the school for instructional materials, program support, substitutes, and consultants; training sessions on site-based management and team building; guidance and support from facilitators; technical assistance in grant writing; and a review of educational literature provided by university members. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with participants from each of the three schools to obtain their perspective about the collaboration. The researcher concludes that communicating goals more clearly to all school personnel, providing a facilitator to demonstrate instructional approaches, and more personal interaction with teachers would enhance the implementation of the collaborative process. The researcher recommends that collaborative site-based management efforts such as this one include no more than five institutional members, goals be kept to a limited number, and teachers be provided stipends for work beyond school hours. The study fails to provide a clear connection between a collaborative model of site-based management and improved student achievement.

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