About Us: What is the Collaborative?

The California Collaborative on District Reform aims to inform district-level efforts to improve instruction and outcomes for all California students by bringing together practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and funders in ongoing evidence-based dialogue and collective problem solving. Central to this work is the identification of persistent and pernicious opportunity gaps between advantaged and traditionally underserved students as well as strategies for addressing and eliminating the gaps.

Core meetings: Collaborative members meet three times a year to explore particular problems of district practice and to glean lessons relevant both to those problems and to more general issues of system improvement. Recent examples include developing effective leadership at the district and school levels, closing opportunity gaps between advantaged and traditionally underserved students, transitioning to the Common Core State Standards, and preparing students for college and career through Linked Learning strategies. Grounded in the concrete realities of a member district, the meetings provide a common basis for exploring pervasive issues of educational change, support leaders in the host system to reflect on and refine their strategies, and create exemplars of district practice from which others in California or the nation might learn.

Additional activities: Beyond building the knowledge base within the group, the Collaborative provides a coherent district voice in California’s policy dialogue and disseminates research- and practice-based insights to support district improvement across the state. To do so, the Collaborative engages in:

  • special projects that enhance the learning of participating districts, such as documenting lessons from cross-district partnerships like the Fresno-Long Beach Learning Partnership and a burgeoning collaboration between Garden Grove and Oakland;
  • activities to inform state policy, including working groups to advise on the design and implementation of state and federal initiatives in California; and
  • briefs and other publications that share the lessons learned from our core meetings and from the experiences of our districts with local and state policymakers.

Through this work, the Collaborative has built and continues to develop a deeper knowledge base on district improvement strategies; stronger, ongoing connections and networks among California practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and funders; deeper partnerships among participating district leaders and their teams; and systematic incorporation of the district perspective and district practitioner voice in the work of state policymakers, researchers, and funders.

The Collaborative is housed at, and staffed by, the American Institutes for Research (AIR).