What began as a vision to strengthen the presence of the Graduate School of Education in New York City public schools has grown into a thriving center that touches the lives of more than 100,000 students.
In 2006, the Center for Educational Partnerships (CEP) was established to foster ties between the University and schools in the greater metropolitan area.
Research-based and outcome orientated, CEP works with schools, districts and government agencies to enhance teaching and learning. It supports teachers, students, parents and administrators through technical assistance, assessment and planning, consulting and program development.
Anita Batisti, Ph.D., associate dean of GSE, has been the center’s director since its inception.
“I started with a small office, a laptop that was borrowed and my own cell phone,” Batisti said. “We had to hit the ground running.”
Since then, CEP has developed and is currently implementing five major initiatives that include:
• a New York City DOE Partnership Support Organization (PSO);
• two Bilingual Education Technical Assistance Centers (BETAC) in the Bronx and the Lower Hudson Valley;
• a Bilingual School Psychology Support Center, which serves all 1,500 city schools;
• a Mathematics and Literacy Coaching program.
Over three years, CEP has raised roughly $33 million in contracts, grants and fees for service.
“It’s not so much the money, it’s what the money is buying, which goes back to the schools,” said James Hennessy, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Education.
GSE is one of two university-based schools of education that has a contract of partnership support with the city, Hennessy explained. More importantly, Fordham’s PSO is the only one to offer services for pre-K through twelfth grade levels.
Starting out with 10 partner schools, the PSO has now expanded to 16, with potential for more.
The PSO’s responsibilities include a wide array of support services.
“Everything from professional development for teachers, to parent involvement, to space issues, to special education,” said Batisti, who noted that any school is accepted into Fordham’s partnership.
The individualized attention provided to schools is one reason for our PSO’s success.
“Everyone is important,” she said. “It’s a very one-on-one type thing. People want to really feel that you care and that you’re cognizant of what they’re doing. That’s what we’re doing. We’re customizing everything.”
Hennessy added, “We get report cards just as principals now get report cards assessing how they are performing. And we’re not afraid to show our report card to anybody.”
The Mathematics and Literacy Coaching programs serving 25 schools throughout New York City also have achieved notable successes.
In schools receiving math coaching, test scores improved by 7.6 percent, on average, from 2008 to 2009.
Schools receiving literacy coaching improved by 13.3 percent, on average, over the same period.
While GSE sends faculty and expertise into classrooms, Fordham also gains a lot through the collaborations of CEP.
Student teachers are placed in network schools, and Fordham master’s and doctoral students are kept abreast of the latest classroom practices, such as new accountability measures. Also, tuition assistance provided by grants helps to bring more students to the GSE’s programs.
CEP now has 17 full-time staff members and offices at all three Fordham campuses. Twenty-five consultants and approximately 15 faculty members also provide services for the center.
“Looking back over the last three and a half years, what started out as a risk is now a major generator of grants and contracts and has put us into schools in a way that we would not have been able to be in schools,” Hennessy said. “We are living the University’s mission to serve the city.”