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Community Collaboration for School Innovation Toolkit

A partnership among the Colorado Department of Education, The Colorado Education Initiative, and The Learning Accelerator, today released an action-oriented toolkit that helps school districts understand the importance of community collaboration as a key to innovation. The free guide includes real-world case studies from Colorado school districts, video tutorials, and templates, and aims to accelerate school innovation and 21st Century learning that authentically reflects community priorities.

The Community Collaboration for School Innovation toolkit was created for districts as they begin shifting away from a community engagement model that centers around the district pushing information out, to a new community collaboration model that instead encourages the district to pull in guidance and directives from the community, and leverage that input to drive innovations. This new model is critical as school districts look for innovative and effective ways to meet the growing challenges facing public education in the 21st century.

Innovation requires creating new ideas, and more importantly requires collective commitment to evolve and go to scale,” said Lisa Duty, Partner at The Learning Accelerator. “The development of new competency-based and blended learning models benefit from empowered people, networks, and more open innovation.”

Last year, the Colorado Department of Education, The Colorado Education Initiative, and The Learning Accelerator invited two Colorado districts to pilot this new model in their local communities — Archuleta #50 JT in Pagosa Springs and District 51 in Mesa County. The early lessons from these two pilot districts are the basis for the Community Collaboration for School Innovation toolkit, a resource that will continue to evolve as districts are able to use, own, and adapt it to meet the needs of their unique communities.

These two districts maximized the opportunity to engage with their communities about graduation expectations. They went into the process believing that educators can and should learn from their communities about the variety of competencies required to be a successful young adults across industry areas,”
said Gretchen Morgan, Interim Associate Commissioner - Innovation, Choice, and Engagement Division, at the CO Department of Education.

“We understand that facilitating this level of community discourse is challenging. So we were pleased to be able to invest, not only in these two districts, but in the creation of a universal set of tools based on their experience. We hope many Colorado school districts, and districts across the country, choose to engage in this process this way,” explained Morgan.

By using the new framework and toolkit, districts will better understand their community’s perspective on questions like these:           

  • What do graduates from this school district need in the 21st century to be successful?

  • How do we prepare the students in this district for a rapidly changing economy?

  • How do we ensure that all students are being well served in our district?           

  • What do you hope and expect students in this district will know and be able to do?
  • What could learning environments in this district look like to ensure that students are prepared for the world once they graduate?