Striving for Student Success: A Model of Shared Accountability

Coordinated
social-service programs are gaining steam—after Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem
Children’s Zone, think Obama’s new Promise
Neighborhoods
and the AFT’s proposed
initiative in rural West Virginia
. These “cradle-to-career” partnerships link
myriad groups and programs in order to provide wraparound services (from
prenatal care run by a neighborhood clinic to mentoring coordinated through the
local United Way chapter). But questions of accountability loom large. (As the
saying goes, when everyone is accountable, no one is.) This brief from Ed
Sector profiles the Strive Partnership of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky, a
program that does a pretty good job of managing this shared accountability, and
distills recommendations for others looking to initiate similar wraparound-service
partnerships. To ensure quality, the brief states, programs of this kind must
have metrics and performance targets in place (for each program partner as well
as the whole) and a system for collecting and reporting data. (Other things,
like strong and sustained leadership, are also helpful.) Most importantly, there
must be a ringleader—an “intermediary organization” charged with overseeing the
whole program, tracking the efficacy of each of the program’s components, and
defunding those that don’t work. In the case of the Cincinnati-Northern
Kentucky initiative, the Strive Partnership (itself a professionally staffed
organization) serves that purpose. As more and more cities implement their own
versions of “strive partnerships” and “promise neighborhoods,” these questions
of accountability will mushroom. Ed Sector deserves credit for starting the
discussion.

Kelly Bathgate, Richard Lee Colvin, and Elena
Silva, Striving
for Student Success: A Model of Shared Accountability
(Washington, D.C.:
Education Sector, 2011).

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