They say it takes a village to raise a child. However, the responsibility of educating and nurturing students often comes down to teachers and school districts. In reality, successful student development is a community effort. It relies on the passion and determination of many key players in a student’s life. This network of support includes teachers, parents, nonprofit organizations, and the students themselves. It requires working outside of organizational lines to form strategic public-private partnerships in education.
A public-private partnership in education is a collaboration between institutions with a shared goal of expanding opportunities across the education sector. They increase transparency and communication between sectors to serve and support students, while creating a united front to tackle sector-wide challenges.
If education is our passport to the future, then we must prepare for it. How might public, private, and nonprofit organizations address opportunity gaps, low student engagement, or lack of teacher resources?
1. BETTER OUTCOMES FOR NONPROFIT EDUCATION PROGRAMS
Nonprofit organizations that partner with technology companies can gain a more holistic view into a student’s life. Case management systems with predictive technology allow nonprofits to gather data about student participants and use that data to make informed decisions. By combining school information system (SIS) data, predictive capabilities, and services, nonprofits can personalize outreach and tailor programs to fit the unique needs of each student.
For instance, Jacob is a high-performing student whose science grades have been improving since the beginning of the year. A teacher recognizes this and enrolls him in an after-school program aimed to enrich student curiosity in science. Leveraging the SIS and nonprofit data, case management software can recommend that Jacob is placed in an advanced science class at school. Finally, Jacob’s teacher and after-school program leader agree that Jacob should enter his school’s science fair, make this recommendation to his parents, and use data to support their suggestion.
Technology and data help connect information across public-private partnerships to amplify student success and increase a nonprofit’s total impact. Better outcomes for nonprofit programs result in better outcomes, and more opportunities, for children from all backgrounds.
2. OVERCOMING DISTRICT ABSENTEEISM CHALLENGES
Chronic absenteeism is one of the biggest challenges in public education today. Research shows that if a student isn’t at school, they aren’t learning. Public-private partnership can be a linchpin in helping districts overcome this challenge. Similar to how schools and nonprofits can partner with a technology provider to challenge high-performing students, these organizations can also work together to pinpoint and address red flags for at-risk students.
For example, one high-school student has 10 unexcused absences from the last semester and missed sessions from his after-school program. After a case manager in the program receives an alert in the system based on the school and program attendance data, they discover the student doesn’t have access to reliable transportation. This leads the case manager to refer the student to an organization with volunteers who can help him safely get to and from school as well as his after-school program. The case manager also alerts the teachers at his school to his current transportation challenges. This ultimately helps the district with higher enrollment, baseline attendance rates, and overall student-body performance.
3. FOSTERING STEM EDUCATION AND INTEREST BEYOND THE CLASSROOM
Many public-private partnerships are fostering and supporting student interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. These initiatives keep children engaged in and beyond the classroom.
For example, in 2009, former President Barack Obama’s Educate to Innovate initiative was created to provide students at every grade and economic level with the skills to excel in STEM education. The nation-wide effort, which invested over $700 million in STEM-specific public-private partnership, was successful in bolstering public interest in STEM,
US2020 also promotes STEM education. This network of local coalitions is committed to matching one million STEM children to professionals and mentors by 2020. US2020 focuses on programs that support underserved and underrepresented students. It is comprised of schools, private companies, public organizations, government agencies, and more.
Public-private partnerships give students an opportunity to pursue interests in STEM, and the positive implications of these initiatives extend far beyond the classroom. Coalitions that strive to keep students engaged and curious help create a path of academic achievement and future professional success.
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS IN EDUCATION: A DOMINO EFFECT
Above all, when children are excited to come to school, everyone wins. Today, public-private partnerships in education are the “village” it takes to lead students through K-12 education. Partnering across sectors is the catalyst that will modernize and transform academia while building a brighter and better future for our youth.