Academic journal article Educational Leadership and Administration

A Model for Successful District-Based Leadership Development Partnerships

Academic journal article Educational Leadership and Administration

A Model for Successful District-Based Leadership Development Partnerships

Article excerpt

Abstract: This article outlines the efforts of the California State University, East Bay Department of Educational Leadership to develop, nurture and implement leadership department partnerships with local school districts. This case study reports on how one such partnership developed and the lessons learned from it. Included is a set of partnership features as well as a discussion about promising practices related to program focus, elements, collaborative planning and teaching and long range outcomes.


Educational leadership programs across California are working to meet the growing need for competent school administrators by forming partnerships with school districts (Basom & Yerkes, 2004; California State University, 2004). And while a commitment to local school districts is not new, the practice of formalizing such partnerships may be. This paper sets out to look at the lessons learned by one California State University through a series of partnerships with local school districts. Central to both the work of forming these partnerships and to this paper was the question, how can a university build successful partnerships with local districts that are perceived by the district and the university as meeting the needs/goals of both institutions to train school leaders? In addressing that question, a first step taken by this Department of Educational Leadership was an exploration into its own goals followed by a process of identifying how might partnerships with local school districts help the department meet those goals.

The Department of Educational Leadership at California State University East Bay (formerly known as Hayward) had a long history of being forward looking. With Linda Lambert as one of the emeriti faculty, it is not surprising that this Department had explored the concepts of collaborative leadership and shared decision-making in the 1990's (Lambert, et. al., 1995, 2002; Lambert, 1998). Later in that decade the Department developed a mission statement that emphasized "bold, socially responsible leadership" or BSRL, as it came to be referred to by the faculty and students as a mantra for programs. However, since 2000, the Department has been working to define what is meant by BSRL including developing a rubric that defined what such leadership looks like and how its use influences teaching (Szabo, Hoagland, Lambert, Lopez, et al., 2001; Szabo, Gonzales, Hoagland, Hopkins, et al, 2002; Szabo, & Lambert, 2002; Szabo, Storms, Rodriguez & Gonzales, 2003) This rubric was used by the Department to define how that vision of school leadership relates to the work the Department does in its service area, including what constitutes a partnership and why the Department would enter into them.

While this redefining work was occurring, arrangements with local school districts that had been a common course of action continued. We say arrangements because most of these efforts were not formalized. These arrangements took many forms from agreements that allowed districts to identify a particular number of candidates for the programs who would not be subjected to the Department's selection process, to setting up specialized credential programs for particular districts or groups of districts. Often the impetus for such arrangements was personal relationships between Department members and local district officials. Less often the push came from the university solely to raise enrollments. However, during the same period that the Department was redefining what it meant by bold, socially responsible leadership, the Department also took on clarifying the conditions under which it would enter into partnerships. Among the most important of these was that the partnership should address bold, socially responsible leadership by focusing on equity and high achievement for all students.

That focus on equity as outcome-based serendipitously connected with an increased emphasis on accountability in California from the adoption of the Public School Accountability Act (1999) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) (2001). …

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