The Organizational Landscape of Schools

School Employees' Conceptualizations of Organizations in Their Environment

Published in: American Journal of Education 126, no. 2 (February 2020): pages 231-263. doi: 10.1086/706922

Posted on RAND.org on January 24, 2020

by Andrea Prado Tuma

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A growing body of evidence suggests that schools' partnerships with neighborhood organizations can improve educational outcomes, but less is known about how educators, who play a crucial role in procuring, carrying out, and maintaining such partnerships, conceptualize the different organizations in their environment. This study uses data from 52 qualitative interviews to systematically examine how educators working in different types of urban schools and neighborhoods make sense of their interactions with external organizations. The findings contribute to scholarship on school-community partnerships by demonstrating that neighborhood organizations provide unique benefits to educators, brokering relationships between the school and the community and generating opportunities for the co-creation of resources by educators and community members. Furthermore, the study shows that educators' sense-making about the local organizational landscape is related both to the availability of geographically proximate organizations and to where students and families reside.

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