A major component of California’s new System of Support launched Nov. 1 when the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence announced three partners to lead its new Community Engagement Initiative. The multi-year effort — which is part of the new school accountability system —will help school communities facilitate the kind of conversations and collaboration that improve teaching and learning.
The San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools office, the California Association for Bilingual Education and Families In Schools emerged from an application process administered by CCEE and the California Department of Education. The three organizations will now partner with CCEE to foster more effective community engagement in schools across the state.
Community engagement is a well-known cornerstone of local control, but a more organized approach that identifies best practices statewide will provide more of a roadmap for local educational agencies, said Josh Daniels, the CCEE director in charge of the initiative. “There’s been a lot of interest, but not a lot of rigorous direction,” he said in describing most existing efforts toward community engagement.
Many education stakeholders echo that thinking and cite community engagement as an area needing more attention and focus. With that in mind, the CCEE initiative will, starting this month, identify effective models of community engagement and develop metrics to evaluate those models.
Measuring results can prove difficult, said Daniels, who is also president of the Berkeley Unified School District board of trustees, even if districts are succeeding in engaging parents and communities. “When it comes to measuring how well we’re doing, we don’t do that particularly well,” Daniels said, stressing that developing better forms of assessment is a key part of the initiative. Though a work in progress, measures will go beyond simple attendance numbers, he added.
The initiative will also look to: develop peer partnerships between school districts and county offices of education to broaden equity-based community engagement; share successful practices in community engagement statewide reflective of the rich cultural, social and linguistic backgrounds of families and students, and serve as a resource and facilitator to build relationships in school districts’ efforts to expand community engagement.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our region to reach out to our communities to develop and provide insights and expertise on improving educational outcomes for all students in California,” San Bernardino County Superintendent Ted Alejandre said in a CCEE press release.
According to the CDE website, Assembly Bill 1808 appropriated $13,274,000 to establish the initiative. The CDE lists its purposes as follows:
- Building capacity in communities and school districts to facilitate difficult conversations that focus on improving outcomes for students;
- Identifying effective models of community engagement and metrics to evaluate those models;
- Developing effective peer-to-peer partnerships between school districts and county offices of education to deepen community engagement; and
- Expanding successful community engagement practices statewide.
- Serving as a facilitator, resource connector, capacity builder, and relationship builder concerning school districts’ efforts to develop community engagement.
The CCEE was created under the Local Control Funding Formula as a statewide agency that assists local educational agencies in achieving their Local Control and Accountability Plan goals. The agency’s next board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6.