Theory of Action

P-3 Community Partnership Theory of Action

A Working Theory of Action for P-3 Community Partnerships

For additional explanation of the theory of action and the 7 principles described below, see this post

The graphic at the top of this page summarizes a theory of action for P-3 (prenatal through third grade) Community Partnerships. A theory of action tells a story about how a series of activities are expected to lead to positive outcomes, creating what some have called a “causal story line.” The P-3 Partnership theory of action illustrates how P-3 Partnerships can best support elementary schools, preschools, and other P-3 organizations in improving outcomes for children and families. The model is intended to build on and complement the Framework for Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating PreK-3rd Approaches, drawing on the growing knowledge base regarding P-3 partnership efforts, early childhood education and care, school reform, family engagement, and community partnerships.

The theory of action suggests that P-3 Partnerships support their member organizations in mastering a set of essential competencies in order to attain high levels of organizational excellence. Partnerships provide this support through several core strategies. The theory of action further outlines how states and communities can support these efforts, all in service of thriving children and families. Embedded in the theory of action are seven underlying principles that help guide the work of P-3 Community Partnerships. These principles are summarized below.

7 Principles of Effective P-3 Community Partnerships

Implement Whole Child Approaches Systematically. Support elementary schools, preschools, and other P-3 organizations in fostering cognitive and linguistic learning while integrating social-emotional learning, character development, and physical and mental health as core components of their mission.

Build Organizational Excellence through Essential Competencies. Build the capacity of P-3 organizations to master these distinct, yet mutually-reinforcing competencies:

  • Best Practice Guidance Systems
  • Professional Capacity
  • Student-Centered Learning Climate and Environment
  • Family Partnerships, Support, and Social Ties
  • Community Connections and Aligned Services

Improve Quality and Continuity through Core Partnership Strategies. Carry out these core partnership strategies to support member organizations in mastering the essential competencies:

  • Collaborative Quality Improvement
  • Alignment and Transitions
  • Comprehensive Wrap-Around Services
  • Community Outreach and Family Support

Connect Families, Build Trust. Promote positive social ties and trust among families by connecting families to peers, networks, and social services.

Link P-3 and Place-Based, Cradle-to-Career Initiatives. Integrate P-3 Partnerships into broader community and place-based efforts that support older children as well as economic development, workforce development, and housing initiatives.

Build Knowledge and Capacity across Communities. Build knowledge and capacity across P-3 Partnerships within states and across networks through exchange, technical assistance, knowledge development, and knowledge dissemination activities.

Practice Strategic Leadership and Data-Driven Continuous Improvement. Support leadership development and data-driven continuous improvement at every level of the P-3 system.

Supporting P-3 Community Partnerships

Again, for additional information on the theory of action, see this post.

6 thoughts on “Theory of Action”

  1. This is such important and needed work. I caution to not forget community based childcare centers and family providers as KEY partners in this mission. Too often the focus is on the school and the principal being the know all for ece when in fact there are many well-educated and knowledgeable ece providers in the field. Because of the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership’s 30 year history of focusing on administrative and instructional leadership, I encourage you to expand your partnerships so ece providers are fairly represented in this work.

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