July 2015

AISR believes that a web of strong, overlapping collaborations between school systems, community institutions, higher education partners, and families – a smart education system – is necessary to ensure that all children have equitable opportunities and high-quality learning experiences. Furthermore, the degree of collaboration across these multiple sectors determines to what extent educational options improve for all students.

Based on research in Rhode Island’s Central Falls School District (CFSD), these two innovative measurement tools look at family leadership and partnerships with higher education institutions, two critically important district-level collaborations essential to successful urban education transformation.

The Family Leadership Self-Assessment Rubric: An Indicator Tool for School Districts is based on the principle that educational opportunities for low-income students and students of color increase when families are actively engaged as leaders in system-wide reform. The tool includes a report that outlines a framework of concrete, actionable indicators for school systems and their partners to help them actively develop parent leadership, with CFSD’s work to build authentic family leadership as a case study. A self-assessment rubric of indicators, aligned to the framework, follows.

The Higher Education–District Partnership Self-Assessment Rubric: An Indicator Tool examines an agreement between CFSD and nearby Rhode Island College, a major pipeline for the state’s new teachers, to form a comprehensive “Innovation Lab” that has engaged the college and the district in experimentation and invention. This tool provides a framework to help school systems and higher-education institutions form effective partnerships grounded in community engagement, followed by a self-assessment rubric of indicators aligned to the framework. It was developed as a reflection tool for other districts and universities to strengthen their collaborations.

The two rubrics were funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.