2 Surveys Confirm Growing Movement Toward School-College Collaboration

By Mark Pitsch — July 31, 1991 4 min read
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Atlanta--More than one-third of private colleges and universities and nearly one-quarter of state higher-education institutions are actively engaged in partnerships with elementary or secondary schools, two surveys conducted by higher-education associations suggest.

The surveys were outlined at a conference, held here last month, on the growing movement toward school-college collaboration.

One survey, conducted by the Foundation for Independent Higher Education and the National Institute of Independent Colleges and Universities, found that 361 independent schools, or 38 percent of their combined membership of 946 colleges and universities, were actively engaged in some form of partnership.

The survey did not count teacher training partnerships or faculty-consulting arrangements, which are generally considered the most widespread and oldest form of partner ships. A similar survey by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities found that 86 of 360 schools surveyed, or 22 percent, reported having at least one partnership. Only schools that provided a description of their partnership were counted, and the survey included teacher-training partnerships. Aascu and niicu officials who oversaw the surveys say the actual numbers of collaborative efforts-- which can involve both public and private elementary and secondary schools--are probably higher.

“I was surprised,” Oscar F. Porter, assistant executive director of niccu, said as he presented his survey results to the conference. “I didn’t expect this level of involvement.” “I don’t want to give the impression that this is a ‘bandwagon type thing'--they’ve got one so we need to get one,” Mr. Porter said. “But I think the institutions have finally realized that we’re talking about a pipeline, we’re talking about a continuum, and they have to get involved at all levels if we’re going to get the results we want.” ?

Teacher Preparation Stressed

According to the niicu/fihe survey, each institution with a partner ship averages two such relationships, although the number ranges from one per school to 30. Most partnerships are designed to improve teacher preparation, give academic and guidance support to at-risk students, and prepare students for college, the survey said. ‘

The survey found a total of 291 partnerships with school districts, although not all such arrangements are districtwide. In addition, higher- education institutions have linked up with individual high schools (190), elementary schools (143), and middle schools (85), the survey showed.

Mr. Porter said that the survey indicated that the primary roadblock to the establishment of more partnerships was a lack of money. Participating elementary and secondary schools are not likely to provide more than 50 percent of the funding, while corporate support amounts to 10 percent or less, the survey said.

More than 51 percent of the partnerships have been established since 1989, the survey found.

The aascu survey also found that each public higher-education institution with a partnership averaged two partnerships.


The most common type of partner ship, at 23.7 percent, was a teacher- training program, the survey said, but respondents also said that reaching at-risk students (13.8 per cent), developing curriculum (15.1 percent), and general educational improvement to foster school-college relations (19.1 percent) were partnership priorities.

More than 70 percent of the colleges and universities used their own resources to fund partnership programs, as did 55 percent of elementary and secondary schools or districts, the survey found. Twenty- four percent of the partnerships received some money from foundations, while other parts of the private sector contributed to nearly 14 percent of the programs, the survey said.

The figures exceed 100 percent be cause many partnerships received support from several sources.

The survey found, however, that partnerships frequently were underfunded. In 1990, $47,500 was spent on a typical collaborative project, even though those responding to the survey felt that an average of $150,000 was needed to support it adequately. Sixty-nine percent of the programs were identified as “on going” or “indefinite.” ?

Related to Reform

Results from the two surveys underscore the significance colleges and universities have accorded collaborations with elementary and secondary education in recent years.

Although such partnerships in the area of teacher-training date back to 1892, said Merideth Ludwig, director of association research for aascu, devoting partnership dollars to other areas is a more recent phenomenon.

“Maybe schools are just now be ginning to see collaborations and partnerships directly related to re form and restructuring,” she said in an interview. “But it hasn’t always been that way.”

Ms. Ludwig said little research has been done on the subject, and educators interested in collaborations have scant knowledge of what kinds of partnerships have existed, what kinds have survived and what kinds have failed, and what impact has been made on school reform. “We’re so needy for information about how education is improving,” she said.

A version of this article appeared in the July 31, 1991 edition of Education Week as 2 Surveys Confirm Growing Movement Toward School-College Collaboration


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