District Services

The Partnership Zone Initiative

Building the District Capacity for a Lead Partner Unit

Building the local capacity for a Lead Partner unit is the cornerstone of establishing an in-district Partnership Zone. The School Turnaround Group (STG) works with a small number of reform-minded districts to establish the conditions and capacity necessary to sustain academic results in turnaround environments.

What Are Lead Partners?

Lead Partners are in-district organizational units - either independent non-profit organizations or subunits of the district central office - that oversee the turnaround process in a cluster of low-performing schools. Some strong Lead Partners already exist, like the Academy for Urban School Leadership in Chicago and the Friendship School in Maryland. Lead Partners share four critical characteristics:

  • They provide core academic and student support services in turnaround schools

  • They sign a 3-5 year performance contracts to improve student achievement

  • They assume authority for critical components of school change, including “people, time, money, and program”

  • They maintain a consistent and productive presence in turnaround schools (at least 5 days a week)

Recruiting and Growing Local Capacity

Given both the short timelines of the federal School Improvement Grant program and the urgency for change in low-performing schools, STG provides strategic consulting services for districts that want to leverage the capacity of Lead Partners. When working with districts we always take the following steps:

  1. 1. Build the capacity of the District Turnaround Office;
  2. 2. Create district-wide Partnership Zone conditions, including those related to human capital and collective bargaining; and
  3. 3. Analyze the local partner marketplace to identify gaps between district need and current capacity.
After assessing the local marketplace of education providers, we pursue one of the following sets of steps:

Recruit Existing Lead Partners
Create A New Lead Partner Unit


Organizations interested in collaborating in this work should contact Chris Maher at 617-778-1500 or cmaher@massinsight.org