Helping K-12 and Higher Education Collaborate

Topics: Early College High School, Higher Education

Guest post by Andrea Mulkey

A recently published report finds that K-12 and higher education often fail to collaborate effectively. As I help with the formation of KnowledgeWorks early college high schools, one of my roles is to facilitate the conversations between K-12 and institutions of higher education and I can attest that the issue is not the collaboration. It’s how to do it effectively.

My five tips for effective collaboration between K-12 and higher education:

  1. All parties need to believe in and authentically invested in the need for collaboration
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Engage in transparent, open dialogue, and accountability through documentation (project plans, MOU, etc.)
  4. Decision-makers are a part of the collaboration
  5. Mutual benefit for all parties involved

These tips really apply to all effective collaboration, but that doesn’t lessen their applicability here. When I read through The Collaboration Imperative report, the findings clearly illustrate a desire for collaboration. Sometimes it’s as simple as an external person facilitating the conversation to help change occur.

After initial work is in place, the KnowledgeWorks team helps to make sure that the work doesn’t lose momentum or that the groups don’t revert to their respective education silos.

Learn More About The Collaboration Imperative

As reported in an Education Week article, “Hart Research Associates and edBridge Partners conducted a telephone survey last fall of 104 public school district superintendents and 101 public and private two- and four-year college university system leaders, based on a national sample.” This report was done in collaboration with the American Association of State College and Universities and the American Association of School Administrators.

In addition to finding that that K-12 and higher education often fail to collaborate effectively, the study also shows that:

  • Leaders at K-12 and institutions of higher education place importance on collaboration but don’t think they are doing it very effectively.
  • Priorities around collaboration differ and often reflect external pressures.
  • Where collaboration is occurring, maintaining momentum in the work is an issue.

Read the complete report, The Collaboration Imperative.