THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
Community partnerships with Toledo Public Schools will become more structured under a new initiative.
The district, in collaboration with Partners in Education, now will require all community-partner agencies to essentially prove their programs are effective. The initiative, called Partners with Purpose, will be piloted in the Waite learning community this year and go districtwide next year.
Partner agencies will be required to follow a five-step process, TPS Superintendent Romules Durant said Monday at a news conference. They must identify their target populations, clearly state the components of their program, express desired outcomes, have a way to measure effectiveness, and require the agencies to evaluate their programs regularly.
Mr. Durant said agencies will be asked, “Is the treatment having a true impact on the targeted population it’s designed to serve?”
Many public school systems, including Toledo’s, are criticized for taking a throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach to community partnerships and programming. A follow-up rarely takes place to see if a tutoring program or wellness initiative achieved its stated goals or had any real goals to begin with.
The new initiative could put TPS at odds with longtime partners if the data show their programs aren’t making a difference.
Partners in Education will serve as the clearing house for the initiative, with partner agencies submitting information to PIE and then report quarterly to the organization.
Current funding that agencies may receive by TPS in the first year won’t be affected, but the new initiative may change whom TPS funds and for how much in future years.
The goal is to improve the quality of programs offered by partner agencies, PIE Executive Director Becky Spencer said. That would mean programs that aren’t showing a positive effect could be asked to reconsider their approach, make changes, or eventually could have money redirected, Mr. Durant said, but the idea is to make those changes with a collaborative approach.
Partners in Education will host training workshops on the new protocol, provide quarterly professional development sessions for agencies, and other assistance through the Afterschool Alliance of Northwest Ohio.
The Aspire network, which tries to unite community partners to improve outcomes for Lucas County residents, will assist in data collection and analysis.
Aaron Baker, Aspire executive director, said the new effort would better align agencies’ efforts by using a “data-driven accountability system” to push for better results and hold organizations accountable.