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Boston Public Schools

Program and Partnership Assessment and Improvement


Boston Public Schools


Program and Partnership Assessment and Improvement


How can a school district develop an accountability system to ensure schools are working effectively with their community-based partners toward better outcomes for students?

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Boston Public Schools (BPS) partners with hundreds of community-based partners to provide access to high-quality services and programs that meet the needs of all students. Yet BPS did not have a way of measuring the effectiveness of the partnerships between schools and external programs or the impact that each program was having on their students.


In 2012, Root Cause partnered with BPS to develop the Community Partnership Framework, a partnership management system to strategically organize the programs working across BPS to meet the needs of students. This system set the foundation for future work with BPS.

In 2014, Root Cause began working with the BPS Office of Institutional Advancement and Partnerships (the Office) to support its vision of ensuring equitable access to effective partnerships providing high-quality services that ensure all students achieve at high levels. BPS partnered with Root Cause to implement activities related to the Office’s work to understand student needs, provide quality services, and ensure effective partnerships. The activities Root Cause led included:

  • Developing a BPS Partnership Effectiveness Framework to ensure the relationships between schools and community partners operating within them were strong
  • Developing a Program Quality Framework that community partners had to fulfill in order to work with BPS students
  • Creating a partnership best practices toolkit that aligned with Principal Evaluation Standards

Root Cause piloted the Partnership Effectiveness Framework in two BPS schools and the Program Quality Framework with five partners.

Based on the success of and learnings from the pilot of the Program Quality Framework, Boston Public Schools (BPS) launched the Opportunity Portfolio as a key strategy for identifying and increasing equitable access to quality learning opportunities. The Opportunity Portfolio uses a comprehensive vetting and assessment process to identify high-quality community partners and provide them with a variety of supports intended to grow their services within schools.

Goals & Results

As of the 2018-2019 academic year, Boston Public Schools manages the effectiveness of its partnerships through The Office of School-Community Partnerships. They implemented an evaluation using seven elements (shown in the table below), which comprise 23 individual indicators to measure effectiveness of school-community partnerships. These seven elements are part of Boston Public Schools’ “Tools for Strengthening Partnership Effectiveness.”


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Coordinated ServicesProcess exists to ensure alignment both across partners and between partners and the school.Distributive LeadershipThe school leader delegates authority around partnerships to others as appropriate, including school point of contacts identified for each partner.Shared AccountabilityAgreements are in place that provide a scope of service and clearly defined roles and expectations for the school and partners.Results DrivenSchool and partners use data to continuously evaluate achievement of, or progress towards, shared, mutually set goals.Effective CommunicationThere are formal meetings throughout the school year during which the school and partners regularly talk about the overall state of the partnership.SustainabilitySchool and partners utilize blended funding sources, including non-traditional or alternative sources.

Strategic AlignmentPrincipal engages the voice of the school community (students, educators, families, and partners) to develop the vision for how the school hopes to best support students; the vision is communicated externally and drives partnership practice.
Comprehensive process exists for using data on student, school and community needs to identify partner services needed.
Rigorous selection process is in place to ensure new services are high quality, modeled on evidenced-based research, and aligned with school needs.
System exists to ensure partner services are known to staff and well integrated into the school.
Process exists to ensure school staff and partners are able to refer students to the services that can best meet their individual needs.
School staff and partners share ownership for decision-making to strengthen inclusive and informed choices regarding partnerships.
The school and partners are accountable to achieve shared, mutually set goals.
Resources are allocated appropriately to ensure the school and partners achieve their shared goals.
Agreements are in place that provide scope of service and clearly defined roles, expectations, and shared accountability.
A process exists to analyze the link between student needs and the impact of the services provided by partners.
A process exists to enable partners to continuously improve using student data and professional development feedback.
Communication between school and partners is based on transparency and trust.
Communication is well facilitated between partners and all relevant stakeholders at the school, including families.
Two-way communication and information sharing between school and partners, and among partners, are in place. School/partner accomplishments are celebrated as a community.
Strong financial management and planning exists to support partnerships in the school.
Information about the impact and value of partnerships and partner services are shared with key stakeholders and funders.
Capacity exists to meet student needs if partnership resources decrease.
Process is in place to ensure sustainability of partnerships during periods of transition.


About the Partner

Boston Public Schools

Boston Public Schools is committed to transforming the lives of all children through exemplary teaching in a world-class system of innovative, welcoming schools. Boston Public Schools partners with the community, families, and students to develop in every learner the knowledge, skill, and character to excel in college, career, and life.

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