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Collaboration in Adult ESL and Family Literacy Education. ERIC Digest.
The current trend toward "collaboration" is having an impact on the fields of adult basic education (ABE) and adult English as a second language (ESL) and literacy education. Policymakers, attracted by the logic of inclusive, family- oriented services, have legislated collaboration into various programs for children and their families. Even Start, a family literacy program, and Follow Through, a program for kindergarten through grade three, require partnership among all service providers--federal agencies, adult and elementary educational institutions, teachers, and parents. Similarly, a federally-funded program for adults, the National Workplace Literacy Program, requires its projects to demonstrate a partnership between educators and business or labor organizations in providing basic skills education at the workplace.
This digest looks at collaboration for adult ESL programs and for family bilingual and ESL literacy programs. It discusses the distinctions among cooperation, coordination, and collaboration; presents a framework for collaboration; reports on uses of technology for collaboration; and explores ethical considerations, evaluation concerns, and policy issues.
DISTINCT NATURE OF COLLABORATION
Writers on collaboration (Kagan, 1991; Winer & Ray, 1994) often make the following distinctions among cooperation, coordination, and collaboration.
1. Cooperation--Each group retains its own authority and keeps its own resources. Cooperation can take place among groups with differing goals and without a clearly defined shared mission. There is little risk in this relationship and little gain, as there is no real sharing of goods, services, and expertise.
2. Coordination--Each group retains its individual authority and independence, but specific modifications in the way it operates may begin to occur. Coordination requires mutual planning and open communication among groups as mission and goals begin to be shared. Partners enjoy the benefits of shared resources, yet power may become an issue among participating groups.
3. Collaboration--Separate groups with commitment to a common mission come together to form a new structure. Collaboration requires comprehensive planning as decision-making, power, authority, and resources are shared. These synergistic efforts often result in innovations that benefit all participants: clients, service providers, and the wider community. In true collaboration, partners no longer run parallel programs at a common site, but have created a new program that offers participants more than the individual agencies can offer separately (Dilworth, in press).
A FRAMEWORK FOR COLLABORATION
One framework (Winer & Ray, 1994) helps potential partners to think about the collaborative process as a series of changes in interactions among individuals and the organizations they represent, rather than as a set of sequential steps.
1. "Envision Results by Working Individual-to-Individual" Individuals representing the collaborating groups meet to confirm their shared vision and specify desired results.
2. "Empower Oneself by Working Individual-to- Organization" Clear authority provided by both the home organization and the collaboration empowers individuals to act. This process entails confirming organizational roles, resolving conflicts, organizing efforts, and supporting members.
3. "Ensure Success by Working Organization-to-Organization" Envisioned services are provided and articulated goals are realized as the collaborative learns to manage the work, create joint systems, evaluate the results, and renew its efforts toward achieving desired results.
4. "Equip for Continuity by Working Collaboration-to-Community" The completion of the original collaboration often becomes the genesis of a new, more comprehensive collaboration as collaborators establish continuity for their successes by extending their relationships and responsibilities to include the broader community.
Owsley County Schools in the Booneville, Kentucky area used this model to articulate their informal knowledge about efforts in their Appalachian community to offer seamless education and social services from birth to adulthood, utilizing various federal and state funding sources. As they described it, " you can't see where one program ends and the other begins" (Schlessman-Frost & Saunders, 1993, p. 13). The model enabled Owsley County to organize and document information about its collaboration and to make its process one that can be duplicated in other communities.
Collaboration at the state level among ABE programs, including special education, bilingual and ESL education, and alternative secondary and GED instruction, could produce innovative services to meet the diverse needs of adults. Perhaps advocacy for mandated collaboration for ESL literacy in the Vocational and Adult Education Acts and in other legislation which provides instructional and social services to adults is worth considering.
Two Successful Collaborations
The nature of collaborations varies depending on the resources and needs of the communities involved. Two of New Mexico's Even Start family literacy programs provide an illustration of this diversity.
An urban demonstration model in Albuquerque, PArents, Children, Community Together (PACCT), is run by an interagency project coordination team (Goldstein & Schlessman-Frost, 1992). Representatives from more than a dozen agencies including the public schools, community colleges, volunteer literacy programs, and early childhood service providers comprise this decision-making core group of collaborators who meet once a month to facilitate the collaboration process for all agencies, services, and locations in
Goldstein, G., & Schlessman-Frost, A. (1992). Albuquerque's PACCT for Literacy: A demonstration model for successful collaboration. "Scope," 92(1), 5- 14.
Griesel, P. (1992, December). "Ethics of collaboration: A quest for guidelines." Paper presented at the forty-first annual meeting of the Far Western Philosophy of Education Society, Asilomar, CA. (ED 360 235)
Kagan, S.L. (1991). "United we stand: Collaboration for child care and early education services." New York: Teachers College Press.
Melaville, A., Blank, M.J., & Asayesh, G. (1993). "Together we can: A guide for crafting a profamily system of education and human services." Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Social Policy and the Institute for Educational Leadership. (ED 357 856)
Schlessman-Frost, A., & Saunders, T.F. (1993, April). "Collaboration: A model for design, management and evaluation." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Atlanta, GA. (ED 360 738)
Smart, T. (1993, June 7). Beyond talk and chalk. "Business Week." p. 65.
Uhl, S.C., & Squires, S.E. (1994, April). "Enhancing systemic change through effective collaboration: A formative perspective and approach to collaboration." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA. (ED 372 467)
Winer, M., & Ray, K. (1994). "Collaboration handbook: Creating, sustaining and enjoying the journey." Saint Paul, MN: Amherst H. Wilder Foundation.
The National Clearinghouse on ESL Literacy Education (NCLE) is operated by the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract no. RR93002010. The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions of OERI or ED.
Title: Collaboration in Adult ESL and Family Literacy Education. ERIC Digest.
Descriptors: Adult Basic Education; Bilingual Education; * Educational Cooperation; * English [Second Language]; Ethics; Evaluation Methods; * Family Programs; Information Networks; Literacy Education; * Participative Decision Making; * Partnerships in Education; Telecommunications
Identifiers: ERIC Digests; *Family Literacy; New Mexico; Policy Issues
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