Dev Ed/ABE Toolkit: Chapter 2 – Part 1 – page 2
The Importance of Securing Campus and ABE Administration Support
It cannot be emphasized enough how critically important it is to secure partnership champions, and this means obtaining the support of administrators from both sides of the partnership. Without support from administrators, it is nearly impossible to make the necessary calculated decisions and risks to be innovative. Innovation and change often challenge people, and positive, insightful leadership can help support and navigate the transition.
Because ABE and the colleges have different business models and operate on different calendars, there are potential challenges to be communicated and managed, which only administration-level personnel have the ability to address. Since both organizations in the partnership can have differing goals to accomplish, it is also important that the leadership work together on a common vision and a commitment to each other’s success in the project.
When the college forms a partnership with ABE, there may be some tough decisions for administrators to make, like course assignments, FTE (full-time equivalent) levels, and faculty load (see Glossary). Each of these have the potential to cause faculty angst or create an environment of uncertainly and possibly fear. So, communicating with transparency, explaining the value proposition of a Dev Ed/ABE partnership (i.e., student persistence, greater enrollment and success in college math and English, and swifter and less expensive access to degree-bearing credit accumulation for students) is probably the first biggest challenge and need on the part of the college administrator.
Another important aspect that administration needs to be involved in is the permission and structure for data sharing. It is important for each organization to have ready access to pertinent information. In some cases, this involves access to D2L and gradebooks, lesson plans, assessments, and student work depending on the level of integration. In some of the existing partnerships, it was reported that there has been varying levels of willingness to share this information, and it helps if administration can set the expectations and pave the way to make it happen.
Lastly, success in these kinds of changes can sometimes be difficult to measure, especially in the early stages. Administrators are often the strongest voice to express partnership benefits to a wider range of stakeholders.
College administration may be needed for locating office space, key codes, copying abilities, textbooks, access to D2L and other campus resources. Also, practical action steps include providing ABE instructors with a college email account, a mailbox, and invitations to join/visit key committees.
Administrative support for the partnership has many implications when it comes to design and delivery of the partnership model. They can help in many ways, including:
- Helping to clarify and define roles for how to serve students to avoid duplication of services, to maximize partner resources, and enhance the referral processes and opportunities between programs
- Developing institutional procedures that will enhance transitions from ABE to college credit-bearing classes, including concurrent enrollment of ABE students in college classes and programs, opportunities for co-requisite course enrollment of college enrolled learners, coordination of bridge or on-ramping programming, or development of articulation agreements
- Establishing advising policies that clearly define program eligibility and placement designed to improve and not hinder student progress
- Strengthening referrals between programs and developing ways to share successes and outcomes that result from partnership
- Standardizing assessment and placement of students by selecting a common placement tool to avoid misplacement of students in classes
- Sharing resources such as professional development opportunities, classroom space, technology access, student advisors, tutoring services, and more
- Promoting articulation and coordination of programming between ABE, Developmental Education and credit bearing courses to provide a more seamless transition of students
- Aligning curriculum used by learners transitioning from ABE to college to ensure academic preparedness
- Securing funding and establish institutional policies to support the enhanced partnership, including additional paid planning/prep time and collaborative meeting opportunities
- Publicizing and promoting collaborative programming in both partner systems
Formalizing the Partnership with a Memorandum of Understanding or Joint Powers Agreement
Finally, college and ABE administrators can support the formalization of the partnership through the development of an agreement which documents expected partnership practices. This can take the shape of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Joint Powers of Agreement (JPA). As a good practice, either MOUs or JPAs include articulations and agreements of duties which creates consistency and delineates shared resources and funding. In addition, they can set the tone for an equitable and committed relationship among members of the team.
A JPA is similar to a MOU, but MOUs tend to be more versatile and used for all types of agreements, whereas “JPAs are limited to issues specifically related to distributing power. They are more formal than a handshake but less binding than a contract.” [SOPs and MOUs by Sid Heal, The Justice Academy. 2007.]
Whichever arrangement is selected, the document would name the parties involved, describe the project or collaboration on which they are agreeing, define its scope, set the level of funding or contributions of resources to the project/collaboration by each party, and outline the parties’ roles and responsibilities.
It is likely that either party can locate a template for an MOU or JPA or samples used for other projects, within their own organization. If not, check with legal counsel in your system about these.
Funding the Partnership
Funding a successful and sustainable collaborative Dev Ed and ABE partnership requires both partner organizations to make financial investments to support the endeavor. A partnership will more likely succeed with financial support, including paid time for staff to come together as a team to participate in related Professional Development events and trainings, to collaborate during the developmental phase of the project, and to establish the practices and procedures that will achieve a smooth transition from stand-alone to collaborative instruction. Administrators from both programs play an important role during this phase of collaboration and should be included in the partnership development as much as possible.
Once the partnership progresses to the implementation phase, it is best if this level of support continues until the program becomes well established. Staff will need time to meet regularly as a team, coordinate and plan future lessons, debrief on the prior lessons, address challenges, revise goals and roles, and address other unique circumstances that arise. Upfront investment in the partnership results in dividends down the road as robust, well-developed programming results in significantly improved outcomes for learners.
See full Toolkit for greater details about college and ABE funding considerations. Link available on Website.
Part 1 Checklist
It is best to use this checklist with your partnership team to include minimally Dev Ed and ABE managers, and Dev Ed and ABE instructors who will be partnering. If you don’t yet have a team, please return to this checklist when you do.
At the end of this chapter, you or your team should:
- Create a plan about who to contact and what conversations are needed with whom, to explore a Dev Ed/ABE partnership
- Have a partnership team in place or at least, have a sense about who should come together to form a partnership team
- Have secured administrative support from both ABE and the college. This involves an administrative commitment to all aspects of the partnership. Administrators should be ready to serve as program champion and provide the financial or in-kind support
- Have a good understanding of the options available to formalize the partnership when the time comes to do so
- Have a clear understanding of the financial investment required to launch a partnership and sustain it over time