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Community Schools Need Strong Community Relationships

BOULDER, CO (August 31, 2017) – Community schools have gained attention as an effective means of implementing reforms such as extended learning time, high-quality learning opportunities, and integrated student supports. A new NEPC Policy Memo argues that community school leaders should employ specific strategies and collaborative practices that help ensure that the benefits of such reforms are shared equitably.

In Strong Collaborative Relationships for Strong Community Schools, Julia Daniel of the University of Colorado Boulder examines research on educational leadership and the impact of strong collaborative relationships between community partners, teachers, and school leaders.

Collaborative relationships among teachers, parents, and other school stakeholders can lead to several positive outcomes such as improving the organization of the school, improving student learning, and increasing the commitment from and trust between people working at a school and living in the surrounding community. In a community school, collaboration between stakeholders can support the successful implementation of integrated student supports, expanded learning time, and meaningful family and community engagement. Successful collaborative leadership in schools is built on the following long-established but crucial strategies:

  • Creating time for collaboration so that stakeholders can assess issues, set common goals, make plans, reflect and build on practice, and deepen relationships.
  • Prioritizing processes that allow people to engage honestly and constructively in problem solving and creating shared ownership of the process by creating designated spaces for open dialogue, collective reflection and improved practices.
  • Creating structures and roles that provide meaningful ways for stakeholders to sustain participation and develop leadership, including regular meetings and supportive but challenging leadership.
  • Committing to collective leadership development that builds the capacity of community members and other stakeholders to participate in improving conditions for learning and growth both inside and outside of the school.

Although there is a basic common sense to each of these four recommendations, they are often not sufficiently prioritized or pursued. Julia Daniel’s Policy Memo calls attention to the foundational research that supports school leadership based on collaborative relationships and explains its particular importance for community schools.

Find Strong Collaborative Relationships for Strong Community Schools, by Julia Daniel, on the web at:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: