Partnership Schools: New Governance Models for Creating Quality School Options in Districts

In at least 10 U.S. cities, a new partnership schools model is emerging. This “third way” governance strategy can break through contentious district-charter divides and could help improve struggling schools or increase the number of high-quality neighborhood options. CRPE has studied the dual concepts of school autonomy and district-charter collaboration for many years. Partnership schools might be thought of as the next stage in district-charter collaboration or a key component in implementing a portfolio management strategy. As relatively new entities, the theory of change is largely untested and student outcomes not yet studied but the approach is promising.6 This brief aims to offer a lay of the land on partnership schools and outline questions that policymakers and researchers should consider as more of these partnerships grow. Leaders contemplating school improvement strategies in their communities may find that partnership schools can help deliver on the promise of public education for students and their families in ways that neither district or charter schools could do on their own.