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‘Improbable Partnership’ of District, Union Yields Dividends

12/10/2015

​​​​The collaboration between Rockford Public Schools and the district’s teachers union has resulted in 10 Early Successes that were highlighted this week at a nationwide professional development conference for educators. The accomplishments range from a successful contract agreement to recent surveys that reflect the positive attitudes of staff and community about schools.

Superintendent Ehren Jarrett and Rockford Education Association Vice President Paul Goddard shared the successes during a panel presentation at the Learning Forward annual conference Dec. 4-9 in Washington, D.C. The session, “Improbable Partnerships Lead Urban District Transformation,” also featured representatives from the Consortium for Educational Change and SMART Learning Systems.

The district has been working with CEC since 2013 to help develop a labor-management partnership and build a culture focused on collaboration and shared leadership. SMART Learning Systems has been integral as well, helping to train and support staff in professional learning and continuous improvement. One result of the work has been a single, coherent planning process. The process aligns the work across the district—across classrooms, with the school’s professional development teams, with school building leaders and district leaders. Staff speak a common language about improvement.

The Learning Forward conference reflects the best thinking and practice on transformational change in education. “It’s a huge honor to be on the docket and panel,” said Jo Anderson, co-executive director of CEC, a non-profit organization that works with 110 school districts in Illinois. Anderson is impressed with the progress RPS 205 has made in a short time in its “systemic journey” to improve student achievement. The work at the district is not done, he said, but it’s beginning to yield dividends.

To learn more about the 10 Early Successes, see the list and the summary​.​