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ERIC Number: ED517025
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 208
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1097-7127-5
Problems Solved, Problems Created: A Critical-Case Analysis of a Public-Private Partnership in Alternative Education for At-Risk Students
Callet, Valerie
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, University of Southern California
The purpose of the present study was to determine what problems are solved and created when two school districts and one charter school partnered with a private company to provide alternative education to at-risk students. The research also aimed to address lessons learned as well as principal advantages and disadvantages of the partnership. Data collection included interviews with top district officials and principals along with the private company's management team. Focus group interviews were conducted with students and staff from the sites. Observational data, documents, and student-level data were also collected. Data analysis consisted of comparing the responses of individuals who occupied similar roles at different sites and those who occupied different roles. Data from observations, documents, and students were used to test the reliability of the results. Findings suggested that the partnership solved a number of problems: It addressed the needs of a number of at-risk students, represented a viable alternative for districts, existed within the districts and enabled partners to take advantage of one another's resources. On the other hand, the partnership created problems by jeopardizing effective teaching and learning practices, lacking criteria for enrolling students and hiring staff that fit, and creating confusion among stakeholders. Lessons learned included the necessity of shared commitment and values in a partnership, that no silver bullet exists to address the dropout problem, and that leadership matters. As for principal advantages, districts found the private partner to be responsive, stakeholders learned from one another, and supportive relationships were fostered. However certain disadvantages were apparent as well: negative perceptions of the program, distance, and some stakeholders' difficulty working with an unfamiliar entity. A surprising finding was that the charter school leaders, unlike their district counterparts, were committed to investigating options for off-track youth beyond the partnership. In addition, the management team from the private company noted several disadvantages of working with districts though top district officials did not express a similar concern with respect to the private firm. The findings from this study suggest that future research is needed to determine why students leave alternative education programs so that additional options to recapture off-track youth may be devised. Further research is also necessary to determine why certain organizations foster individuals' drives to seek solutions to complicated problems such as dropout. Finally, how private companies can thrive working with districts is worthy of additional research. In terms of policy, findings from the present study suggest that partnerships between private companies and public schools can help create educational options for at-risk youth. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A