Joan Talbert Co-Authors Report on Sanger-Firebaugh District Partnership

Joan Talbert
October 2014

In a report examining the Sanger- Firebaugh District Partnership, Collaborative member Joan Talbert, senior research scholar emerita at Stanford University, and Jane David, director of the Bay Area Research Group, detail the key elements that have contributed to a successful partnership, lay out the conditions ­framing its scope and efficacy, and offer a set of questions to consider for future district-partnerships. How District Partnerships Can Help Build Learning Organizations  seeks to dispel the myth that district partnerships are smooth, rapid, and immediately foolproof solutions. Instead, the report reveals that at a fundamental level, a productive district partnership demands a shift from “business as usual in district interactions” and requires movement toward norms of transparency, knowledge-sharing, and collaboration. The report suggests that when districts commit to their partnerships through a shared vision, agree on a broad agenda to orient goals, develop structures that support relationship-building, generate access to external resources, and contain internal and external feedback loops, they can engage in a productive process of continuous improvement. While no district partnership will be exactly the same, the aforementioned elements can help guide the development of learning organizations and provide a strong framework for evolving relationships between districts working towards continuous school improvement.