Skip to main content

District Collaboration

The California Collaborative is an example of a growing trend toward cross-district networking and collaboration. District leaders increasingly recognize the value of working with their peers in other districts to tackle their most pressing challenges. Rather than operate in silos, districts can adapt promising ideas from other K-12 systems to meet their own local needs. They can identify and avoid the pitfalls that have slowed progress in other districts. They can even develop shared products that enrich their learning and accelerate their growth in the service of improved student outcomes.

This page provides a range of examples of cross-district collaborations and highlights the knowledge base emerging from districts’ experiences working across system lines. It includes:

  • Rationale for Cross-District Collaboration
  • Contributions from the Research Community
  • Examples of Cross-District Collaboration

Rationale for Cross-District Collaboration

Contributions from the Research Community

August 2015
A report from the American Institutes for Research, co-authored by the Collaborative’s deputy director Joel Knudson, chronicles how the CORE Districts came into existence and designed their early work together. It also describes the participant-identified outcomes from CORE’s early work and outlines considerations for other districts embracing models of cross-district collaboration.

June 2015
These slides were presented by Jennifer O’Day at the June 2015 board meeting of the California Collaborative on Educational Excellence (CCEE) to share lessons learned from the California Collaborative on District Reform’s ten years of collaborative inquiry anchored in district collaboration.

December 2014
Several California Collaborative superintendents have built a network of K-12 system leaders from both traditional public school districts and charter management organizations to develop their individual leadership capacity. Through the Stuart Foundation California Leaders of Education (SCALE) Initiative, these district leaders have participated in a series of workshops organized by California Education Partners and the consulting firm Bain & Company.

October 2014
This report details the key elements that have contributed to the success of the Sanger- Firebaugh partnership, lays out the conditions framing its scope and efficacy, and offers a set of questions to consider for future district-partnerships. It emphasizes that 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.

This California Collaborative series on the Fresno-Long Beach Learning Partnership documents and examines the evolution of this groundbreaking cross-district collaboration.

Other Examples of Cross-District Collaboration

Aspen Urban Superintendents NetworkA strand of the Aspen Institute’s Education Program, this ongoing professional development seminar and peer-learning forum offers a platform for superintendents of urban school districts across the country to network and address major challenges confronting their districts.
CORE DistrictsThis network of nine California school districts aims to foster collaboration and learning to innovate, implement, and scale successful strategies and tools to better prepare students for college and career.
LCFF Collaborative Working GroupThe California School Board Association and California Forward have brought together a network of district administrators and school board members to meet quarterly and reflect on the California’s Local Control Accountability Plans to identify both promising practices and systemic challenges in implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).
Math in CommonThis group of ten districts work together, within and across districts, to advance student success in mathematics while implementing the Common Core State Standards in grades K-8.
SCALE UpThis collaborative partnership teams six small districts in California’s Central Valley to work together to improve district capacity through cross-district leadership development and training.
Stanford English Language Learner Leadership NetworkThis collaboration between researchers at Stanford University and district level practitioners supports seven small to middle sized districts in Central and Northern California in improving academic outcomes for English learners.
Urban Education DialogueThis network brings together superintendents from California urban schools for a two-day meeting to share best practices, generate creative ideas about current education issues, and improve education policy.

We welcome any suggestions for additional examples that merit attention here. Please contact us at


October 2016

In an op-ed for EdSource, Chris Steinhauser, Superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), makes a case for why CORE Districts should serve as a research pilot for the state’s efforts in adopting a multiple-measure accountability… Read More

December 2015

In Designing an Accountability System that Builds Professional Capacity and Sustained Commitment to Equitable Access to Deeper Learning Opportunities for All Students,  Jorge Ruiz de Velasco, associate director for the John W. Gardner Center for… Read More