Many people have tried hard to transform traditional barriers to labor/management cooperation in order to produce productive partnerships. Not all have succeeded. We’re proud to report that — in education — school officials and teacher labor leaders are succeeding with a pioneering program called CALI.
At a meeting yesterday, organized by the State Department of Education, the excitement was palpable as school administrators and teacher union leaders discussed how they have transformed their relationship into a strong partnership for improving instruction and student achievement.
CALI is the Connecticut Accountability for Learning Initiative. It’s a process of professional development and technical assistance designed to increase student achievement. And it’s succeeding because it gives educators just what they’ve earned — a professional voice in the school improvement process.
Collaboration between teachers and administrators is a centerpiece of CALI. How important do you think collaboration is? How much attention does it get in your school building/district? Do you think more collaboration would spark student improvement and boost teachers’ professional status in your community?
Eighteen school districts are now involved in CALI. Karen O’Connell, president of the East Hartford Education Association, says school officials have involved her union in CALI every step of the way. “CALI has made a profound difference in my district. We have data teams in every school, and the data is being used to determine improvement efforts for every student. Students are grouped in flexible and differentiated groups. We are very pleased with the results.”
Some educators remember, “When we started in this program, there were some districts where people from the administration and people from the union wouldn’t even sit together at meetings. Now, however, we are working hand in hand. Without CALI and without union collaboration, we’d never have accomplished so much.”
The state head of the program, Lol Fearon, echoes that sentiment. “What we have learned in the CALI process in the past four years is that no one person alone can boost student achievement successfully. It takes a lot of collaboration and cooperation among many people.”
Improvement in student test scores in CALI school districts has been remarkable. Read the new report here.
In CALI, collaboration hasn’t stopped at the schoolhouse door. There’s been a significant effort to reach out to the community and involve community residents in the school improvement process. Is that happening in your community?