If school leaders want to build support for ongoing and sustained success, they need advocates and supports outside the immediate organization. School leaders must encourage collaboration with stakeholders who understand the mission of the school, who share vision and passion for student success, and most importantly who have a personal stake in the performance of the school and its students.
There are many factors that can affect school and district-wide organizational performance and goal attainment over time. These factors include, but are not limited to, staff changes, shifting priorities, and budget reallocation. In my professional experience, I have seen improved outcomes that are achieved one year, yet fade the next. For this reason, I believe external stakeholders must play a critical role in sustaining improved outcomes. While research proves internal stakeholders have greater capacity to produce positive change within schools, many times they don’t have the power needed to sustain it. The involvement of external stakeholders must be extended so that they can be a force for successfully implementing and sustaining effective school-wide improvement.
Regarding stakeholder involvement for sustained school success, the involvement of these individuals must reach far beyond social events, fund-raising efforts, and other general volunteering activities. School leaders must enact mission-driven leadership, with targeted stakeholder involvement and a clear communication around a goal. Most importantly, they must provide opportunities for ongoing collaboration focused on student learning. Such examples include data-sharing, goal-setting, policy recommendations, lobbying, and other advocacy activities. Stakeholder collaboration can happen within the local community, as well as the state and beyond. This collaboration will more effectively attain support through allocation of funds for training, staffing, and materials.
While national, state, and district stakeholder involvement can support lasting change and success. Individual schools must be present in facilitating open dialogue of their educational mission within the community. Each school has its own constituency and each school must identify and reach out to stakeholders to inform them of the school’s mission, vision and successes and seek their support. The initiative of forming strong partnership is key to sustaining educational reform.