Administrators on both the college and K-12 level agree they need to collaborate more. The problem is few actually do.
A recent telephone survey of 104 public school superintendents and 101 leaders of public and private two- and four-year colleges and universities found that most superintendents (90%) and college system leaders (80%) say they believe their collaboration is extremely or very important. At the same time, just 33% of superintendents and 34% of postsecondary leaders say they do collaborate extremely or very effectively.
“K-12 is much more top-down than higher ed and decisions can be made more quickly,” Jacqueline King, director of higher education collaboration for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, told Education Week. “This can be frustrating to K-12 to have higher-ed people want to talk [issues] to death.” On the other hand, college administrators often believe K-12 leaders don’t understand they just “can’t snap fingers and make things happen,” she added.
The research, The Collaborative Imperative, also showed both groups tend to have different priorities and question whether their counterparts view collaboration as that important. Superintendents want to see an improvement in the development of teachers and in ways to align instruction with higher ed, while postsecondary leaders are focused on improving students’ transition into college and reducing the need for remedial courses. College administrators tend to blame budget constraints as a barrier to collaboration with their public school counterparts, who say they are just too busy to make time for collaboration.
“Although not insurmountable, these barriers especially require fresh and innovative thinking about how resources can be marshaled or pooled if we are serious about functioning as a coherent educational system, rather than separate sectors,” the report said. “We especially recognize the promise of regional collaboration, organized among schools and colleges who share students and teachers in common and who, therefore, have clear connections to shared outcomes and compelling overlapping interests.”