Published In

Professional Educator

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2000


College-school cooperation, Student teachers -- Education, Educational research, Higher education, Laboratory schools


Formalized partnerships between colleges or universities and public schools have gained in popularity even though their impact remains uncertain. Such partnerships, existing under a variety of terms (the most common of which is Professional Development Schools [PDS}), are meant to bring together the resources and the expertise of the university and those of one or more public schools. PDSs typically center on three fundamental domains of activity: the preparation of new educational professionals, the continuing professional development of current staff, and the collaborative field-based research on issues of common interest.

This paper focuses on the process by which such partnerships are formed. Specifically, it addresses the oftentimes contentious issues of how an agenda of mutual benefit to both parties is established and implemented. Based on our own experiences in the formation of such partnerships, we discuss how partners are identified and then describe the negotiations as to the scope of work to be carried out. We examine in detail the provision of a formalized letter of agreement between the partners and whether such an agreement is restrictive or facilitative. We conclude that the crafting of partnerships between school and universities is a delicate process, one requiring candor, careful attention to the language used, and faith in the evolving nature of the partnership.


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