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“Goldilocks-Sized”: Australians Suggest Partnership Schools as a Model

by Partnership Staff

The Grattan Institute, an Australian think tank, studies a broad range of issues, including education. In a recent report on how to drive that nation’s student outcomes, they recommended one innovation in particular: what they call “multi-school organizations”—MSO’s, for short. Their report features Partnership Schools as an exemplar. 

Researchers from the institute interviewed teachers and principals at Partnership Schools, as well as others at New York charter school networks Success Academy and KIPP, about how being a part of an MSO can help streamline school systems, increase principal and teacher effectiveness, and ultimately improve student outcomes.

Their report addresses a dynamic of Partnership Schools that is quite intentional but rarely discussed: the size of our network. Grattan’s report describes it as “goldilocks sized” —small enough to be responsive to individual school needs and big enough to allow for shared resources and support that are often not possible in stand-alone schools. 

Key findings they shared also include:

Network support and expertise allows Principals to focus on instructional leadership.

Partnership Schools principals shared that network support allows them to save time on administrative work and logistics and focus more of their efforts on activities related to teaching and learning, including classroom observations, instructional coaching, and school culture.

Principals also gain support from a cohort of peers with whom they can collaborate. At the same time, they retain the flexibility to set a vision and build a school fit for the unique needs of the communities they serve.

“Principals can have a big impact on students’ achievement, as well as on students’ and teachers’ experience at school,” the report explains.“A highly effective principal can raise typical student achievement by up to seven months in a single year, and even more in disadvantaged schools.”

Selection of a common curriculum ensures consistency and quality across all schools

The Grattan team finds that when CMO’s like the Partnership select a common curriculum, they can ensure quality and consistency across all schools. Shared curriculum also allows network staff to provide targeted professional development and shared learning across schools. In this model, teachers describe feeling supported by the network saying, “the central team gives us what we need – everything is right there.” 

To read the full report or listen to a brief podcast summary, click here. To read more about professional development in the Partnership, which the report also mentions, click here.