Skip navigation


California State University, Northridge wordmark
Michael D. Eisner College of Education wordmark
Joan Becker and 6 of her students.

Vol. 3, No. 2

Spring 2014

Your Source of Information for Staying Connected, the e-magazine of the Michael D. Eisner College of Education

Associate Dean's Message

Emerging School-University Partnerships with the Michael D. Eisner College of Education

Associate Dean Beverly Cabello and Barbara Charness, School Partnership Liaison, Michael D. Eisner College of Education

Associate Dean Beverly Cabello (right) and Barbara Charness, School Partnership Liaison, Michael D. Eisner College of Education

The theme for this issue of InnovatED is Partnerships. You will read about various types of partnerships, some involving individual faculty, others between institutions. The purpose of this introductory message is to provide an overview of partnership models and to generate discussion about evaluating the effects of partnerships on teacher development, pupil learning and achievement, and other stakeholders.

Many of our colleagues are engaged in meaningful relationships and activities within the preK-12 schools. This list includes Drs. Shartriya Collier, Bonnie Ericson, Ivan Cheng, Kathy Rowlands, Brian Foley, Larry Oviatt, and Joyce Burstein, to name a few. In addition, there are institutional partnerships between our College and preK-12 schools and districts through:

  • Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Teaching, Learning, Counseling Consortium
  • Northridge Academy High School
  • China Institute
  • Family Focus
  • School Partnership Liaison

Many of these relationships have existed for decades. This involvement has led to recent conversations within the College about what we mean by partnerships and how we gauge the impact of our partnerships on pre-service and in-service teacher development and preK-12 pupil learning through research and/or program evaluation. We need to better define what we mean by partnerships and how the College needs to engage differently with varying levels or types of partnerships.

In trying to better understand and define partnerships, as well as to identify successful university-preK-12 partnerships in the nation, Barbara Charness has been conducting a review of the research and has contacted many universities engaged in successful preK-12 partnerships. As a result of this review, several findings have emerged. In an effort to present this information in a concise and clear manner, Barbara developed the diagram below, illustrating a continuum of partnership levels and partnership success indicators in practice throughout the United States. The work of Barnett, et al. (1999), inspired this diagram, which we view as a work-in-progress.

Diagram of the Partnership Network Continuum

Click to enlarge

We expect to modify this diagram as additional information is gathered about markers of successful partnerships, particularly those here at CSUN.

At each level of the continuum, there are markers in place that determine the levels of the partnership. The indicators tell us what types of resources are necessary to be successful at each level of partnership activity on the continuum. These include:

  • Length of involvement (one-shot presentation versus an ongoing relationship)
  • Scope of work (single grade level versus school-wide)
  • Level of institutionalization (one day versus professional development school)
  • Degree of formality (verbal agreement versus an MOU or contract)

A perusal of the College of Education partnerships in light of this continuum suggests that most of our partnership efforts fall within the first two levels of the continuum, the vendor or collaborative model; however, the CHIME and Northridge Academy High School partnerships meet the criteria for the most advanced levels of partnerships.

In examining the continuum of partnership models, it is also important to consider what is not on the diagram. A review of the research on partnerships shows that data that measure the impact of partnerships on teacher development or pupil learning and achievement are limited. Nevertheless, articles describing successful partnerships typically point to the following factors as necessary for partnerships to thrive:

  1. Faculty from both institutions are committed and engaged in the partnership activities.
  2. Both university and school faculty collaborate consistently to meet the goals set out by the partnership.
  3. Professional development activities that promote student learning and achievement are provided.
  4. There is governance within and between the two institutions that supports the resources and processes that sustain the partnership.
  5. There is trust between the two institutions.

Additionally, studies show how the levels and types of funding and resources vary by the type of partnership, noting that sustainable institutionalized partnerships require ongoing funding and support. Furthermore, emerging indicators of student impact from partnerships include decreased disciplinary referrals, increased attendance rates, improved graduation rates, and significant growth on state assessments.

Unfortunately, most of the articles base the above conclusions on anecdotal accounts from members of the partnership. Very few articles actually provide concrete data showing these effects. Hence, our challenge is to formally evaluate the impact of partnerships on district and university faculty, preK-12 pupils, administrators, and stakeholders engaged in the partnership. Through research and evaluation, we need to identify best practices in establishing and maintaining partnerships that significantly enhance teacher development as well as preK-12 pupil learning and achievement.


  • Barnett, B.G., Hall, G.E., Berg, J.H., Camarena, M.M. (1999). A typology of partnerships for promoting innovation. Journal of School Leadership, 9, 485 – 509.

Editor's Note

The theme of this January's Faculty Retreat was Community Engagement, and President Harrison gave the opening address, Why Engage with the Community? What's Wrong with an Ivory Tower?

She passionately encourages faculty to engage with our community both because volunteering is a way to "do good" for society and because our students derive academic gains from the activity. Moreover, she stresses the importance of promoting student success (her "first and highest priority as CSUN's president") through student engagement in High-Impact Practices such as service learning and community-based research projects. She cites how these activities help increase student engagement, learning, retention, and graduation rates.

Our College has a rich history of faculty and student engagement with the community, and we continue to forge new partnerships and practices in this arena. Some of our current pioneering efforts are highlighted in this thematic issue of InnovatED on Partnerships.

~ Cynthia Desrochers, InnovatED Editor

Proceed to next page.

Content Contact

Dr. Cynthia Desrochers, Editor
Professor, Eisner College of Education

Technical Contact

Ian Carroll
Web Developer, Eisner College of Education