NEW YORK— Chancellor Carmen Fariña joined 21 schools from the Learning Partners Program today to celebrate and recognize the success of the pilot program and announce its expansion for next year. Staffers and principals from both the host and partner schools shared best practices and innovative ideas gained from the program, as well as the impact on their schools and students.
The pilot program included schools across all five boroughs and was designed to develop interschool collaborative learning between sets of host and partner schools. Host schools in the pilot were identified as having particular expertise that would benefit the designated partner schools. Partner schools in the pilot were schools that have new principals, serve students with diverse needs, or identified a specific educational area to strengthen. The program was developed with the support of the Wallace Foundation, as well as the Kornfeld Foundation.
“This program enables schools across the City to unlock the incredible potential of all our students through collaboration, innovation, and communication,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “The Learning Partners Program brings teachers and principals together to create communities where our students can thrive. As this program expands, schools will be empowered to emulate successful strategies across the City.”
Throughout the pilot, the DOE’s Research and Policy Support Group (RPSG) conducted ongoing evaluations to capture best practices and identify areas of growth for the program. As part of the evaluation, RPSG followed four groups of host and partner schools: two elementary, one middle, and one high school. They also observed host principal study group meetings, led focus groups with program facilitators, attended weekly meetings between facilitators and program leadership, and conducted a survey of program participants.
“Students are the winners when our educators collaborate to share best practices,” said Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Phil Weinberg. “We know that many of the answers to challenges we face exist in the walls of our schools. As we expand this program to even more schools across the City, we will ensure that our educators are able to create schools where our students can succeed.”
The RPSG evaluation found that:
• 100% of participants would recommend the program to other schools.
• 100% of participants agreed that their area of focus met an important need at their school.
• 97% of participants plan to make changes to improve their school next year as a direct result of the program.
“Every time we come here, we learn something new…as a new principal you are by yourself… [my host principal] is teaching me how to teach myself and my staff,” said Heather Jn-Baptist, principal at P.S. 36 in Manhattan.
“We learned a great deal from the Learning Partners Program, too. As a host school, when we opened our doors to let others see what we do, we challenged ourselves. It pushed my teachers to take risks, try new strategies, and strengthen the work they were doing to serve our students. It also gave my teachers an opportunity to collaborate in new ways and to develop as professionals…For example, one of my teachers put together a session on using technology in the classroom for our partner schools; it was an opportunity for [our school leaders] to teach other school leaders,” said Kenyatte Reid, founding principal at host school Eagle Academy of Southeast Queens.
With the success of the pilot program, the Department is excited to be able to expand the Learning Partners Program to 72 schools next year.
For next year’s program, host schools have to meet five criteria which include: having a principal with five or more years of experience; earning at least a proficient rating on the most recent Quality Review; not being “fully screened”; having promising practices to share; and having a principal and staff eager to share their practices. In addition, host schools went through a rigorous review process to ensure they are a strong fit for the program. Partner schools generally have new principals with two to four years of experience, serve students with diverse needs, or are looking to strengthen practice in specific areas.
Each partner school will visit its host school five times, and each host school will visit its partner school three times. A facilitator from the central office team will coordinate an arc of learning and a schedule for the upcoming school year.